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By the Same Author. 

Turkey of the Ottomans.— 
In imperial 16mo, cloth gilt, 
gilt top, with about 30 full 
page plate illustrations. 
6s. net. 

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better handbook for the news¬ 
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A MEVLEVI TEKKEH, SALONICA 






MYSTICISM AND 
MAGIC IN TURKEY 


AN ACCOUNT OF THE RELIGIOUS DOCTRINES, 
MONASTIC ORGANISATION, AND ECSTATIC 
POWERS OF THE DERVISH ORDERS 


BY 

LUCY M. J. GARNETT 


AUTHOR OF 

"THE TURKISH PEOPLE/’ "TURKEY OF THE OTTOMANS,” ETC. 
TRANSLATOR OF "GREEK FOLK-POESY” 


ILLUSTRATED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 


NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS 
1 53-157 Fifth Avenue 


1912 







PREFACE 


My aim in this volume has been to give a thoroughly 
impartial account of the Dervishes of Turkey, so 
far as my knowledge of their principles and practices 
will allow, neither unduly concealing their lower, 
nor unduly exalting their higher aspects. And 
I would fain hope that this brief study of the 
Mystics of Islam may be found to have not only a 
speculative and religious, but also a practical and 
political interest. In controversies with respect to 
Islam and Civilisation, no account is usually taken 
of the Mystical side of this Creed as a native element 
of antagonism to the most essential doctrines of 
Islam. Widespread as is this unorthodox mysti¬ 
cism, it has been, and still is compelled to keep itself 
to a certain extent hidden. Events may, however, 
possibly, sooner or later, bring it to the surface, 
and endow it with practical significance. For 
as in the Christian West there has ever been a 
continuous protest both on the intellectual side by 
philosophers, and on the religious side by mystics, 
against the more distinctively Semitic doctrines of 
Christianity, so it has also been in the Moslem East 
in the Schools of the Dervishes, both among the 
Persians and the Ottomans. And as this speculative 


VI 


PREFACE 


protest by the Monks of Islam has not been without 
practical results in Persia, so may it likewise be 
expected to have corresponding results in Turkey. 
From the Sufism of the Dervish Orders sprang the 
movement of Babism, the initiation of which was 
contemporary with the European revolutionary 
uprising of ’48. This movement, which was sup¬ 
pressed with the most barbarous atrocities, gave 
greater promise than any other event connected 
with the East of that only possible kind of regenera¬ 
tion—regeneration from within. And should a 
movement similar to that of Babism, and, like it, 
derived from the Sufism of the Dervishes, break 
out in Turkey, its importance will, it is to be hoped, 
be better understood in Europe than was that of 
Persian Babism. 


L. M. J. G. 


CONTENTS 


CHAP. PAGE 

I. THE DERVISH ORDERS AND THEIR TENETS . 1 

II. THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY .... 22 

III. THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS ... 44 

IV. MONASTERIES AND SHRINES ... 64 

V. MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE. . . 78 

VI. THE STAGES OF INITIATION ... 95 

VII. THE COSTUMES, MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, AND 

SYMBOLIC OBJECTS OF THE DERVISHES . 107 

VIII. THE VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES . . 122 

IX. SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM .... 136 

X. THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS .... 146 

XI. WOMEN MYSTICS ..... 170 

XII. STATUS AND INFLUENCE OF THE ORDERS . 178 






LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 


a mevlevi tekkeh, salonica . . . Frontispiece 

facing 

page 

A RUFAI, OR “ HOWLING ” DERVISH .... 10 

A WANDERING DERVISH ...... 30 

THE ADRIANOPLE GATE, STAMBOUL .... 48 

BEGGING DERVISH AND NIGHT-WATCHMAN ... 68 

AN ELDER OF THE MEVLEVI ORDER .... 80 

MEVLEVI NEOPHYTE LEARNING THE DEVR ... 98 

A MEVLEVI PLAYER ON THE NEY, OR REED-FLUTE . .118 

THE DEVR OF THE MEVLEVI ORDER . . . .130 

A WANDERING DERVISH ...... 142 

CITY GATE CALLED THE MEVLEVI-HANE STAMBOUL . 152 


DERVISH WITH LEANING CRUTCH . . . . .176 


lx 














MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 
IN TURKEY 


CHAPTER I 

THE DERVISH ORDERS AND THEIR TENETS 

“ Under an alien name 
I shadow One upon whose Head the crown 
Was, and yet Is, and Shall be ; whose Decree 
The Kingdoms Seven of this world, and the Seas, 

And the Seven Heavens alike are subject to. 

All joy to him who, under other name, 

Instructed us that Glory to disguise 

To which the initiate scarce dare lift his eyes ! ” 

Jam!, Salaman and Absal. 

Although the second century of the Mohammedan 
era has been assigned by various students of the 
Sufi Philosophy as the date of its origin, societies 
of mystics would appear to have existed in Islam 
from its very foundation.^ For it is recorded that, 
in the first year of that era, a number of the follow¬ 
ers of the Prophet formed themselves into a Brother¬ 
hood for the ostensible practice of certain religious 
exercises of penitence and physical mortification. 
The word " Dervish ” is, in Persian, synonymous 
with “ beggar,” and denotes also a person who 
voluntarily impoverishes himself for the benefit 
of others. The Khalifs Ali and Abu Bekr, actuated 

I 



2 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


by the desire to fulfil literally that precept of the 
Koran which says that “ He is the best of men who 
is most useful to his fellow-men,” gave up their 
worldly goods to the common use, and entered upon 
a career of service to others, calling themselves 
Safa bashis 1 to indicate the purity of their lives. 
The members of these Fraternities took, however, 
a vow of fidelity to the Prophet and his doctrines, 
and continued to perform their duties as citizens, 
meeting occasionally for the performance of the 
religious exercises peculiar to each congregation. 
The leaders appointed their successors in office 
under the title of Khalifeh ; and these in their turn 
transmitted the rule of the Fraternity to the most 
venerable, or the most spiritually gifted, among 
its members. 

Apart from the attraction of the Sufi doctrines, 
a life passed in retirement from the world for the 
purpose of contemplation and devotion appears to 
have always been congenial to the Oriental mind; 
and this natural tendency proved stronger than the 
injunction of the Prophet prohibiting monasticism 
among his followers. For, even during Mohammed’s 
lifetime, many of the followers of Abu Bekr and Ali 
abandoned the rules of the primitive fraternities 
and formed monastic societies, the first Order of 
Austere Anchorites being founded in the thirty- 
seventh year of the Hegira (a.d. 659) by Sheikh 
Uwais of Yemen, who gave out that the Angel 

1 Silvestre de Sacy, Journal des Savants, 1821, p. 724, 
and D’Ohsson, Tableau General de la Turquie. 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


3 


Gabriel had commanded him, in a vision, to with¬ 
draw from the world and consecrate himself to a 
life of seclusion and penitence. The celestial 
visitant at the same time communicated to this 
ascetic the rules of the Order he was to found, which 
included abstinence from food, and even the most 
innocent pleasures, seclusion, and the recital of a 
great number of prayers by day and night. To 
these mortifications he voluntarily added the loss 
of his teeth, requiring the same sacrifice from his 
disciples, an ordeal which naturally prevented his 
making proselytes of any but the most fanatical, 
notwithstanding the Sheikh’s high reputation for 
learning and piety; and the sect never spread 
beyond Yemen, where it originated. It, however, 
greatly contributed to the institution of other 
monastic orders by the more earnestly minded of 
the followers of Abu Bekr and Ali. 

The second century of the Hegira was the era of 
a great religious movement. On one side was 
developed a scepticism and unbelief that shook 
Islam to its foundations, while, on the other hand, 
mysticism acquired increasing power. This century 
gave birth to a multitude of sects, and has accord¬ 
ingly been fixed upon, as before mentioned, as the 
commencement of the system of religion and 
philosophy professed by the Sufis. Their recog¬ 
nised founder was Abu Said Abulkhair, who lived 
at the end of that and the beginning of the next 
century, and founded a monastic institution into 
which he gathered those whose mode of thinking 


4 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


resembled his own, and laid down rules for their 
guidance. There is, however, much disparity of 
opinion as to whether Sufism, as it now exists, was, 
as asserted by the Sufis themselves, instituted by 
him. In any case it is probable that the sect did 
not long remain within the limits of orthodox piety. 
This was, indeed, impossible. For the Sufi philoso¬ 
phy, as must be admitted, was entirely out of keeping 
with the creed of Mohammed. And the mysticism 
of the early Moslems, so tender and full of sentiment, 
became gradually transformed into Pantheism, an 
equally natural consequence of its inherent tendencies 
and of the action upon Islam of older religious 
systems. 

In the ninth century of our era, the partisans of 
this doctrine were divided into two branches, the 
chief of the one being Abu Yezid, or Bayazid 
Bestemi, who is revered as the Pir, or founder of 
the Bestemi Order, and of the other, Djouneid. 
Bayazid Bestemi openly preached a Pantheism 
irreconcilable with revealed religion, and proclaimed 
more explicitly than any other Sufi teacher had 
done the divine nature of man. Among the 
expressions he made use of are the following :— 

“ I am an ocean without bottom and without 
shore, without beginning and without end.” 

“ When men imagine that they are adoring Allah, 
it is Allah who adores Himself.” 

“ The seed of Sufism was sown in the days of 
Adam ; it sprang up in those of Noah ; blossomed 
under Abraham ; and, at the time of Moses the 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


5 


grapes began to be formed. They came to maturity 
in the days of Jesus, and in those of Mohammed 
was the wine pressed from them. Those of the Sufis 
who have loved this Wine have drunk of it until 
self-consciousness was drowned ; and they have then 
cried, ‘ Glory to me ! Is there anything greater than 
I ? ’ or ‘ I am the truth, there is no God beside 
me!”’ 1 

Djouneid and his followers, on the other hand, 
while holding practically identical opinions, ex¬ 
pressed themselves more prudently, and succeeded 
in uniting in an extraordinary manner the dogmas 
of the Koran with a system of philosophy which 
tended to destroy all religious practices, and reduce 
to nothing the merits of faith and works. To arrive 
at this result they had recourse to an expedient 
known as the Ketman, which has indeed rendered 
eminent service in all times and in all religions, but 
has been practised with greater success by the Sufis 
than by any other sect. The terms of the dogmas 
of Islam were retained, but a totally different 
signification was given to them by the Sufi teachers. 
Irreproachable Moslems in outward appearance, 
these mystics have ever excelled in the art of 
evading dangerous investigations, and, as M. Dozy 
remarks, 2 it “ is rare that an adept, even when in 

1 Garcin de Tassy, Mantic Uttair, 4th ed., p. 5 ; and 
Sprenger, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. Ill, 
p. 134. Compare also the expressions of St. Augustine, 
of Duns Scotus Erigena, and of Eckhart, the Christian 
Mystic (1268-1327). See Vaughan, Hours with the Mystics. 

2 Essai Sur VHistoire de I’Islamisme, p. 323. 

2 —(2119) 


6 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


an ecstatic state, compromises himself by pro¬ 
claiming in public what is every Sufi’s private 
belief—‘ I am God’ ” By means of the Ketman 
and allied methods of propaganda, Sufism has 
succeeded in permeating every class of Moslem 
society, has had for centuries past its Chiefs, its 
Councils, its Monks and its Missionaries, and presents 
phases varied enough to suit every class of thought. 

Hosain Ibn Mansur, also called Mansur Halladj, 
who suffered martyrdom in 922, is revered by the 
Sufis as one of their greatest saints. He was a 
disciple of Djouneid, a Persian by birth, and grand¬ 
son of a Zoroastrian or Magian. According to the 
moderate Shias, his doctrine was that by practising 
abstinence, avoiding all worldly pursuits and 
pleasures, and mortifying the flesh, it is possible for 
man to elevate himself through successive stages 
until he becomes the equal of the Elect, and even 
of the Angels. If he perseveres in this path until 
nothing remains of his earthly nature, he receives 
“ the Spirit of God ” as Jesus is held by Moslems 
to have received it, and everything that he subse¬ 
quently does is a divine action. The Shias also 
maintain that he was put to death on account of 
the extraordinary influence he exercised among the 
upper classes, the Princes and their surroundings, 
which aroused the jealous hostility of the orthodox 
clergy. Halladj has not, indeed, been unfavourably 
judged by the more liberal-minded among orthodox 
writers. Gazzali, for instance, who, while he pro¬ 
fessedly regarded the Sufi philosophy with aversion, 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


7 


expressed his preference for a religion which had 
its seat in the heart as compared with the dry 
orthodoxy expounded by the majority of the Ulema ; 
and he attributed even such assertions of Halladj 
as “ I am the Truth, there is nothing in Paradise 
save Allah,” etc., to his excessive adoration of the 
Deity. For the majority of orthodox writers of the 
period, however, this mystic was a blaspheming infidel 
and sorcerer. On his return to Bagdad after perform¬ 
ing the customary pilgrimage to Mekka, strange 
stories of his miraculous powers were circulated in the 
city. He was credited with having raised the dead 
to life ; the Djins, it was said, were subject to him, 
and fulfilled his every command. Fearing his 
influence with the populace, and incited also, no 
doubt, by the legists, the Vizier Hamid induced the 
Khalif Moktadir to place Halladj and his followers 
at his disposal; and notwithstanding the protection 
of the Lord Chamberlain, the mystic and his 
disciples were arrested. 

When questioned, the disciples admitted that 
they looked upon their master as divine, seeing that 
he had raised the dead to life. But when Halladj 
himself was interrogated his reply was, “ God forbid 
that I should lay claim to divinity or even to the 
dignity of Prophet. I am a man who adores the 
most high God.” 

The Vizier then summoned the Kadis and 
principal theologians, and demanded of them a 
sentence against Halladj. They replied that it 
was illegal to condemn the accused man without 


8 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


proofs of his alleged crime, as he had not 
confessed. 

Foiled in his design, the Vizier had the mystic 
brought before him from time to time, and attempted 
in vain to draw from him some heretical admission. 
He found at length in his writings a statement to 
the effect that if a Moslem were prevented making 
the prescribed pilgrimage to Mekka, he might dis¬ 
pense with it by preparing a chamber in his own 
house in which to perform the rites connected with 
that duty ; these rites accomplished, he must further 
take to him thirty orphans, feed them on choice 
food, clothe them and bestow upon each one seven 
drachmas ; and the fulfilment of these duties would 
gain for him the merit of having performed the 
pilgrimage. On this being shown by the Vizier to 
the Kadi Abou Amr, he was scandalised, and asked, 
“ Where hast thou found such an idea ? ” Halladj 
mentioned a work by Hassan of Bassora. “ It is 
a lie! 0 infidel, whose blood it is lawful to spill,” 
cried the Kadi. “The book thou namest was 
explained to us at Mekka by one of the Doctors ; 
but what thou hast written was not contained in 
it ! ” 

The Vizier seized eagerly upon the epithet 
“ Infidel,” used by the Kadi, and demanded a sentence 
of death from him. The Kadi at first demurred, 
saying that such was not his meaning ; but the 
Vizier insisted, and finally obtained a warrant for 
the execution of Halladj, signed by the Kadi and 
the other legists. In vain Halladj sought to prove 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


9 


his condemnation unjust. “ You have not the 
right,” he exclaimed, “ to shed my blood. My 
faith is that of Islam; I believe in the Hadis 
(traditions) on which I have written works that may 
be found at all the booksellers. I have always 
acknowledged the Four Imams, and' the Four 
Khalifs. I call God to my aid, that my life may be 
spared! ” His protests were unavailing. The 
Vizier hastened to bring the fetvas of the legists 
before the Khalif, who ordered that Halladj should 
die by scourging. He received a thousand strokes, 
after which his hands and feet were cut off, and 
subsequently his head, and his body committed to 
the flames. The disciples of Halladj, however, 
refused to believe that their revered master w r as 
dead. They maintained that a person resembling 
him had suffered in his place, and that he would 
show himself again after forty days. Some declared 
that they had seen him on the road to Nahrawan, 
mounted on an ass, and that he had said to them, 
“ Be not like those foolish men who believe that I 
have been scourged and put to death.” 

Let us now turn to the Sufi version of the story :— 

“ The name of Halladj was in everyone’s mouth ; 
they saw the miracles that he did, and an immense 
multitude followed him. And how should it have 
been otherwise ? Returning from a pilgrimage, he 
happened to be crossing the desert with four hundred 
Sufis. His companions said to him one day, ‘ We 
have nothing to eat, and we are hungry ; we would 
like a roast lamb.’ 


10 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


“ ‘ Sit down,’ said the Saint. 

“ When they were seated, he placed his hand 
behind his back and gave to each one a roast lamb 
and two small hot loaves. They ate, and then 
asked for dates. 

“ ‘ Shake me,’ said the Saint. 

“ They did so, and there fell from him fresh dates 
in such quantities that they sufficed for all the 
company. 

“ But there were those who were envious of the 
wonderful gifts of Halladj. These slandered him 
before the Khalif, and the Doctors of Bagdad con¬ 
demned him to death because he had said ‘ I am 
the Truth.’ They desired him to say ‘ It is 
He who is God,’ and he replied, * Yea, He is all 
things.’ 

“He was cast into prison. A multitude of people 
flocked to him for instruction, until, after the lapse 
of a year, it was forbidden to visit him. The first 
night of his imprisonment, he was not to be seen 
in his cell; on the second, neither prisoner nor cell 
were to be seen. * Where hast thou been ? ’ 
demanded the jailer of him. * The first night,’ he 
replied, ‘ I was with the Glorious Being, for that 
reason thou sawest me not; on the second, the 
Glorious Being was with me, so thou sawest neither 
me nor the cell. To-day I am sent here to satisfy 
the law; come and do to me what thou art 
commanded.’ ” 

It is also related that when he arrived at the prison 
six hundred persons were confined there. “ I will 


w * 



A RUFAI, OR “ HOWLING ” DERVISH 











THE DERVISH ORDERS 


11 


deliver you,” he said. “Why deliverest thou not 
thyself ? ” they asked. “ I am in the chains of God, 
and I have a companion, a faithful guardian. I 
have only to desire it, and at a sign my fetters will 
fall from me.” He made a sign and the fetters of 
all the prisoners fell. “ But the door is closed,” 
they said. “ How shall we depart ? ” Halladj 
having made another signal, the doors opened, every¬ 
one went out, and he was left alone. “ Why 
departest thou not also ? ” he was asked. “ I have 
a secret,” he replied, “ which I must impart only to 
him who is able to guard a secret.” 

On the following day the Khalif, learning what 
had happened, exclaimed, “ He will do mischief; 
let him be hanged ! ” 

They asked Halladj “ Where are the prisoners ? ” 
“ I have set them free.” 

“ Why hast thou too not departed ? ” 

“ Because Allah is offended with me.” 

The Khalif then gave the order to scourge him. 
He received six hundred strokes, and at each stroke 
a voice was heard crying, “ Fear nothing, Halladj ! ” 
A hundred thousand persons had assembled on the 
road by which he was to pass to the scaffold. His 
eyes wandered over them, and he cried, “God! 
God ! God ! I am God! ” 

“ What is true love ? ” a Dervish asked of him. 
“ That shalt thou learn to-day, to-morrow, and the 
day after,” was the reply. 

“ Give me a remembrance of thee,” begged a 
youth. 


12 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


“ The men of this world,” replied the martyr, 
“ aspire after good works. Do thou aspire after a 
thing of which an indivisible atom is worth more 
than the collective good works of angels and men— 
the knowledge of true science .” 

While speaking, Halladj danced and waved his 
hands. “ What manner of walking is this ? ” he 
was asked. “ Am I not going to the place of my 
sacrifice ? ” was his reply, and he broke out into the 
following mystical song :— 

Say not, my Friend is heedless of my pain ; 

The Cup He gives to me He too doth taste . 1 
Like host that with his guest the wine doth drain. 

Yet, while the Cup goes round, the block and sword appear. 
Such fate is his who with the Dragon 2 drinks, 

While ardent shines the summer sun [above the plain]. 

When he placed his foot upon the first step of 
the scaffold, Halladj exclaimed, “ Behold man’s 
ladder to Heaven! ” He adjusted his girdle, 
removed his taiksan —the drapery covering his head 
and shoulders— turned his face towards Mekka, and 
with uplifted hands uttered an inaudible prayer. 
He then mounted the ladder. The people threw 
stones at him, but he uttered no word of complaint 
or reproach. When, however, the Sufi Chibli, also 
a disciple of Djouneid, threw mud at him, he heaved 
a sigh. “ Thou dost not sigh when thou art struck 
with stones, why sighest thou when they throw but 

1 Evidently signifying that God, being present in the 
individual, sacrifices Himself. 

2 The Dragon, a sign of the Zodaic, here represents the 
Deity. 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


13 


mud at thee ? ” he was asked. “ They who take 
up stones,” replied the martyr, “know not what 
they do, so that does not afflict me ; but Chibli 
knows that he sins, when he throws but mud. 
When his hand was cut off, he smiled and said, “ It 
is not difficult to cut off the hand of him who is in 
chains; it would require greater dexterity to 
deprive him of the qualities which raise him to the 
highest heaven.” His feet were cut off. He still 
smiled, saying, “ I have still two other feet to carry 
me to the Two Worlds, cut them off if you can! 
When deprived of his hands, he rubbed his cheeks 
and arms with his bloody wrists ; and when ques¬ 
tioned as to the meaning of this action, he replied, 
“ I have already lost much blood, and my cheeks 
will soon become pale. I am unwilling you should 
imagine that they are blanched by terror, and I wish 
to leave you with rosy cheeks. Dark red is the 
colour of men.” “ But why,” they persisted, dost 
thou besmear thy arms with thy blood ? ” “ I do 

but perform the abtest 1 —the ablutions of love should 
be made with blood.” 

When he had been deprived of his eyes, and his 
executioners were preparing to cut out his tongue, 
he desired to speak once more ; and while the mob 
continued to assail him with stones, he cried, 
“ Great God ! Reject them not because they afflict 
me thus. Praise to Thee, because, for my love of 
Thee, they have cut off my hands and my feet. 

1 The Moslem ablution which precedes the prayers 
repeated five times daily by all good Moslems. 


14 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


When my head is severed from my body, grant that 
I may see Thy face.” His last words were, “ The 
only thing required by the Only One, is, that men 
declare Him to be the Only One.” 1 

Such is the version given by the Sufis of the 
martyrdom of Halladj. They look upon him as 
one of the most eminent representatives of their 
doctrines, having shown that death, and above all, 
the most cruel death, is the happiest thing that can 
befall a Sufi ; for by it his soul is delivered from its 
prison, the body, and “ the Lover ” attains that 
“ eternal union ” with the “ Beloved ” which he has 
so long and so ardently desired. 

Another legend says that an inspired Sufi asked 
the Almighty why He permitted Mansur Halladj 
to suffer. The reply was, “It is the punishment 
for the revealer of secrets.” It is also related that 
when the Saint was about to be impaled in addition 
to his other tortures, the executioners could not 
perform their duty. In vain they endeavoured to 
seize him ; his body always eluded their grasp, and 
appeared seated in a composed posture in the air 
at some distance from the stake. While this was 
occurring on earth, his soul sought the regions of 
Paradise. He was accosted by the Prophet, who 
admitted that he had arrived at the highest stage, 
that of Wisdl y or “ Union,” and that his declaration 
that he was God was true. Mohammed, however, 
entreated him, for the sake of practical religion, 
which was necessary for unenlightened mortals, to 

1 Dozy, Essai sur I’Histoire de VIslamisme, p. 234 et seq. 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


15 


allow himself to be impaled. The soul of the holy 
man accordingly, convinced by the words of the 
Prophet, returned to earth to reanimate his body, 
and suffer the death to which he had been sentenced 
by his earthly judges. 1 

Similar conceptions of Oneness with the Deity 
are expressed in a modern work by a Turkish 
mystic, of which the following paragraph may serve 
as an example :— 

“ And he [Jewad] laid his head on the pillow of 
the quest of inspiration. Straightway he opened 
his eyes, and found himself lying on a shore near a 
vast city. He rose, and wondering, said to himself, 
‘ My life ! Surely I was in my room . . . and this 
city that is before me resembles not ours. There is 
no strength nor power save in Allah. 2 Am I in a 
vision ? ’ In a single moment poor Jewad forgot 
all that he had known—those spiritual sciences and 
strange arts that he had learned and practised for 
so long, all his wisdom and attainments, his manifest 
gifts, his initiation into the Arcana ; nay, even what 
he had learned and comprehended by means of his 
five outer and inner senses ; and he stood as though 
new born from his mother, gazing around him in 
confusion.” [Jewad then meets an aged man, who 
conducts him into the city and shows him all its 
beauties, and finally introduces him into the palace 
of the King.] “ The happy Jewad had left him no 

1 Malcolm, History of Persia, Vol. II, p. 281. 

2 A customary Moslem formula when surprised or 
startled. 


16 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


eye to see, or understanding to observe, or compre¬ 
hension to know, or tongue to speak. When he 
entered the Royal Presence and raised his eyes to 
look upon the beauty of the King, he saw that he who 
sat upon the indescribable Throne was— Himself.” 1 

The twelfth century of the Christian era gave 
birth to two very important Orders—the Kadiri, 
and the Rufa’i. The founder of the former, Abdul 
Kadr of Ghilan, besides being an eminent mystic, 
was a man of great learning, and numbered among 
his disciples his nephew Seyyld Achmet Rufa, who 
subsequently founded the- Rufa’i—better known to 
Europeans as the “ Howling Dervishes ”—on whom 
he is said to have conferred the faculty of miracu¬ 
lously healing the wounds which the devotees of 
this Order inflict upon themselves during their 
extraordinary religious frenzies. 

In the following century the gifted mystic poet 
Jelalu-’d-DIn, surnamed “ Er Rumi,” 2 established 
at Konieh, the capital of the Seljoukian Sultans, 
the Order of the Mevlevi —the so-called “ Dancing 
Dervishes,” in connection with the Royal College 
of which he was the Principal. After the incorpora¬ 
tion of that city in the Ottoman Empire this Society 
became exceedingly flourishing. Endowed and 
honoured by the Ottoman as it had previously been 
by the Seljoukian Sultans, and constituting as it 
did the University of the Empire, state dignitaries 

1 The Story of Jewdd, translated by E. W. Gibb. 

2 “ The Roman,” from his place of residence in Rom, 
the Eastern Empire, which retained that name for centuries 
after the Turkish Conquest. 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


17 


were proud to call themselves its graduates, and 
lay members of the Mevlevi Order of Dervishes. 
Even Grand Viziers did not disdain to don the 
kulah and vestments of the Brethren of Love, and 
take part in their mystical gyrations. 

Although, as above remarked, the Sufi principles 
enunciated by Bayazid Bestemi and Djounei'd are 
professed generally by the higher grades among the 
Dervishes, some of the Orders hold doctrines more 
purely mystical, and others more purely pantheistic 
than the rest. Of the more purely mystical, the 
Nakshibendi and Khalveti Orders are the chief 
representatives. Abu Bekr, the first Khalif, is 
looked upon as the Pir, or founder of the former 
Order, and Ali, the third Khalif, of the latter. 
The successful establishment of other communities 
having caused the extinction of the two original 
Fraternities, they had remained unrepresented, the 
former until the thirteenth, and the latter until the 
fourteenth century, when Mohammed of Nakshibend 
and Omer Khalvet respectively founded Orders 
which assumed their names. The rule observed by 
the Nakshibendi Dervishes is held to be in strict 
accordance with that instituted by Abu Bekr, and 
the members of this Order live in their own homes 
and pursue their ordinary avocations, meeting only 
at stated times for the performance of religious 
exercises. And though devotion does not in Turkey 
at the present day, as formerly, engage the atten¬ 
tion of men of all ranks, this Order has remained one 
of the most numerous and popular in the Empire. 


18 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


The Order of the Khalvetis, although professing 
to be a revival of the primitive congregation of the 
Khalif Ali, practise a much more rigid austerity 
than was compatible with the rule originally observed 
of remaining in the world and fulfilling the ordinary 
duties of citizens. Its members undertake to live 
much in retirement, and to devote a great part of 
their time to solitary contemplation. A legend of 
this Order relates that, as its Pir was on one occasion 
leaving his cell after a prolonged period of mystical 
meditation, he heard a celestial voice behind him 
saying, “ O Omer Khalvet! Why dost thou leave 
us ? ” and, accepting this as a divine injunction, he 
resolved to consecrate the rest of his days to such 
contemplation, and to institute an Order bearing 
his name, which signifies “ Retirement.” 1 

The Order of the Bektashis which, in addition to 
its numerous adherents among the Osmanlis, is 
said to include in its ranks some 80,000 Albanian 
Moslems, was instituted about the same period by 
Hadji Bektash—“ Bektash the Pilgrim ”—one of 
the many learned men whom the munificence of the 
early Ottoman Princes attracted to Asia Minor from 
Khorassan. Orchan, who is said to have attributed 
many of his victories to the presence in his army of 
this holy man, built for him at Sivas a monastery 
and college, and sought his approval and blessing on 
every undertaking. And when the Emir 2 had 

1 J. B. Brown, The Dervishes. 

2 The title of “ Sultan ” was not assumed by the earlier 
Ottoman rulers, who styled themselves simply “ Princes.” 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


19 


enrolled that first fair young band of Christian boys 
which was destined to develop into “ the strongest 
and fiercest instrument of imperial ambition ever 
devised upon earth,” 1 he led them to the abode of 
the saintly Sheikh, and begged of him to bestow 
upon them his blessing. With his arm, draped in 
the wide sleeve of his mantle, stretched over the 
head of a youth in the front rank, Hadji Bektash 
thus addressed the Emir :— 

“ The troop which thou hast now formed shall be 
called Yeni Sheri (‘ New Troop ’). Their faces shall 
be white and shining, their right arms strong, their 
sabres keen, and their arrows sharp. They shall be 
fortunate in battle, and never leave the field save 
as victors.” 2 

The Yeni Sheri, or Janisseries, in consequence of 
this benediction, remained, until the destruction of 
their corps in 1826, closely incorporated with the 
Order founded by this famous Sheikh. 3 

The various Dervish Orders were not, it would 
seem, originally designated, as now, by the names 
of their respective founders, but by the principles 
they severally professed; but as each community grew 
in course of time more distinct from the rest, the 
name of the Pir was adopted to distinguish its 
members. The twelve communities which existed 
at the time of the foundation of the Ottoman Empire 

1 Creasy, History of the Ottoman Turks, pp. 14-15. 

2 Von Hammer, Histoire de I'Empire Ottomane, Vol. II, 
p. 71. 

3 See below, p. 187. 


20 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


have now increased to thirty-six, with as many 
subordinate branches. 

The Kalenderi Dervishes, or “ Kalenders,” as they 
are often called by translators, are not, strictly 
speaking, an Order, as they are not descended from 
either of the original congregations. Their founder, 
Kalender Yussuf-Andalusi, was a native of Anda¬ 
lusia, and for long a disciple of Sheikh Hadji Bektash, 
from whose brotherhood he was finally expelled on 
account of his overbearing temper, and arrogant 
behaviour. He then made unsuccessful attempts 
to gain admittance to the Mevlevi Order, and ended 
by establishing on his own authority a Brother¬ 
hood the rules of which included the obligation of 
perpetual wandering, and of entertaining an 
eternal hatred against the Orders from which he had 
been excluded. The title of Kalender, which he 
assumed and bestowed on his followers, signifies 
“ pure,” implying the purity of heart, spirituality 
of soul, and exemption from worldly contamination 
which Yussuf required in his disciples—qualities 
somewhat at variance, one might suppose, with the 
above-mentioned obligation. This same title of 
Kalender , it may be remarked, is also given to 
Dervishes of all Orders who are distinguished among 
their brethren for superior spirituality. It is this 
class of “ enlightened ” beings which has pro¬ 
duced so many dangerous fanatics in every age of 
Mohammedanism. From it have come the assassins 
of Sultans, Viziers, and Grandees of the Empire, and 
all the unconscious imposters who, under the title 


THE DERVISH ORDERS 


21 


of Mahdi, have misled thousands and desolated 
whole countries by their supposed prophecies and 
divine revelations. 

The attainment of a high degree of sanctity being 
thus the aim of every true Dervish, he seeks, in 
order to attain this, to lead a life of sinless retirement 
from the world, and spends his days and nights in 
prayer and meditation. Fully impressed with the 
possibility of ultimately attaining intimate divine 
communion, the aspirant after it looks upon every 
mundane interest as unworthy of consideration ; 
his mind becomes more and more completely absorbed 
in mystic contemplation ; and as the result of 
his constant invocation of the name of the Deity, 
he hears, even when in the midst of a noisy crowd, 
no other sound but Allah ! Allah! unless, indeed, 
it be some divine command addressed to him in 
return. The more destitute a Dervish is of worldly 
goods, the fewer are his ties to earth ; the more 
emaciated his body with privation and fasting, the 
greater his advance in spirituality; the ills of 
existence affect him not, and death has for him no 
terrors. His solitude is cheered by the presence of 
angelic visitors who impart to him wondrous things 
hidden from the ken of ordinary mortals. Or they 
are the bearers of direct messages from the Deity, 
who thus makes known to his servants His holy Will 
concerning men ; and when commanded to do so, 
the Dervish fearlessly denounces, in the name of 
Allah, the great ones of the earth who, by their 
misdeeds, have incurred the divine displeasure. 

3—(2119) 


CHAPTER II 

THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 

“ A Saint is aware of every thought of the King’s heart, 
and of every secret on earth or in heaven.”— Saying of 
Jelalu-’d-DIn. 

It is noteworthy that Mohammed, in proclaiming 
himself to be the Messenger of Allah, connected 
himself with the past as the Last of the Prophets. 
The Moslem hierarchy of inspired Seers begins with 
Adam, and includes the patriarchs Noah and 
Abraham as well as the greater Jewish Prophets and 
Christ, each successive one being esteemed greater 
than his predecessor. But in addition to this 
historical hierarchy of Prophets there exists, in 
Moslem belief, another of an entirely mythical 
character—a succession of saintly beings unto whom 
the Will of Allah has been revealed, and through 
whose instrumentality the destinies of mankind are 
governed. Supreme among these Saints of the Mos¬ 
lem Calendar is Khizr, or Khidhr-Elias, a mythical 
personage who from time immemorial has in various 
forms and under different names, filled a prominent 
place in the religions of the world. This protean 
Saint, or Demi-god, appears to be identifiable 
with the Prophet Elijah, or Elias, as well as with the 
Christian St. George, who, in his turn, has been 
identified with Horus. 1 Khidhr is held to have 

1 Comp. Lenormant, Origines ii, p. 12 ; Clermont- 
Ganneau, Rev. Arch, xxx, pp. 388*397 ; Guyard, Rev. de 
I’Histoire des Religions, 1880, p. 344 ; Gaston Paris, 
Acad, des Inscriptions, etc., 1880, pp. 91-116. 

22 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


23 


had his original abode in the terrestrial Paradise 
which contained a tree of Life and a Fountain of 
Life ; and having eaten of the fruit of the one and 
drunk of the water of the other he became immortal. 1 
As the wisest of created beings, he was consulted 
by Moses, who, accompanied by Joshua, journeyed 
to a place where two rivers met, or, according to 
other writers, to an “ Isle of the Isles of the sea,” 
where they found the Sage from whom Moses 
received the secret of the “ True Path.” 2 Another 
legend gives the following account of this journey :— 

“ The prophet of Israel, in one of his interviews 
with Allah on Mount Sinai, prayed for wisdom to 
comprehend the hidden mysteries. ‘ That is too 
hard a matter for thee,’ replied the Almighty. But 
on the Prophet’s insisting, He relented and said, 
£ Make then for thyself iron shoes and get ready a 
cooked fish. Then set out. Thou wilt walk until 
the shoes are worn out and the fish has returned 
to life, and then wilt thou find the man who shall 
instruct thee in the knowledge of mysteries.’ 

“ Moses did as the Lord bade him, and, accom¬ 
panied by St. John the Baptist, he set out. In the 
evening Moses and John ate some of the fish, yet the 
next day they found it again whole. After a long 

1 This “ Water,” " Fountain,” “ Stream,” or “ River of 
Life,” said to exist in a Land of Darkness in the extreme 
East, is an Oriental myth alluded to in Revelations xxii. 1, 
and often made use of by Ottoman and Persian poets. 
It frequently occurs also in the folk-tales of South-Eastern 
Europe. 

2 See p. 104. 


24 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


journey they arrived at a spot where two seas met. 
Moses lay down to sleep, and John was watching 
over him, when suddenly a drop of spray fell on the 
fish, which immediately came to life again and 
plunged into the sea. When Moses awoke he set 
out again with John, who had told him nothing of 
the resuscitated fish. Towards evening they stopped 
to eat, but the fish was not there. St. John then 
revealed what he had seen, and Moses returned to 
the place where the fish had leapt into the sea. 
There they found a man lying on the ground. Moses 
saluted him respectfully, and the prostrate man 
returned his salute, saying, * Health to thee, Moses, 
my father.’ 

“ ‘ Who told thee that I am Moses ? 5 

“ ‘ Allah, who has sent me to thee.’ 

“ This man was Khidhr. * What wilt thou with 
me ? ’ he asked. 

“ ‘ I will that thou instruct me in the knowledge 
of mysteries. I will follow thee wherever thou 
goest.* 

“ ‘ Thou canst not follow me,’ said Khidhr, * nor 
art thou able to acquire the knowledge of mysteries.’ 

‘“I will follow thee, and I will strive to learn of 
thee.’ 

“ ‘ Thou mayest follow me on one condition only 
—that thou meddle not in my business.’ 

“ Moses accepted the condition. Then, sending 
back John the Baptist to his own country, Moses 
and Khidhr asked for passage on board a ship which 
was about to set sail. The two men had no money, 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


25 


and their clothes were ragged. The captain at first 
refused to take them on board, but finally yielded 
to their solicitations, and allowed them to sail with 
him. 

“ After a long voyage they arrived in a port; but 
before going ashore Khidhr made a great hole in 
the vessel in which he had had a free passage. 

“ 4 What injustice ! what wickedness ! ’ thought 
Moses to himself. 

“ Khidhr, who reads the hearts of men, remarked 
to him, 4 Said I not to thee that the knowledge of 
mysteries is difficult to acquire, and hast thou not 
promised to meddle not in my affairs ? ’ 

“ Moses held his peace. 

" As they passed through a town, Khidhr perceived 
in a lonely spot a beautiful child asleep, and cut off 
its head. The soul of Moses revolted against this 
crime, but he said nothing. They left the town, 
and came to the country. Seeing a wall about to 
fall in ruins, Khidhr straightened it, and, with the 
help of Moses, left it in good repair. 

" 4 What folly,’ thought Moses to himself, 4 Khidhr 
kills an innocent child, and then repairs an old 
ruined wall in the fields ! ’ 

“ Khidhr was aware of the reflections of Moses. 

4 You find unjust,’ he said, 4 the deeds I have done 
in your company; you are blaming me. I will 
explain to thee the motives of my conduct : Listen ! 
I scuttled the vessel in which we had a free passage. 
It belongs to five persons of whom three are orphans 
under age whose sole livelihood is the profit they 


26 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


derive from it. In the city where we landed is a 
tyrant who seizes upon every sound vessel which 
enters the port. The vessel which brought us, 
being unsound, he has let go on her way. 

“ ‘ I cut off the head of the sleeping child because, 
had he grown up, he would have been the cause of 
great misfortunes to his country and to its religion. 

“ ‘ We mended the ruined wall, and that seemed to 
thee labour thrown away. This wall belongs to 
some young children, and conceals a hidden treasure. 
Had it fallen down, the first passer-by would have 
found this treasure ; it will now stand firm till the 
children are grown up, and they will enjoy their 
own. 

“‘I told thee that thou wert not able to follow me, 
or to acquire the knowledge of mysteries. Said I 
not truly? Go thou on thy way.’ 

“ And Khidhr disappeared.” 

Khidhr is also credited in Moslem belief with 
having led the Israelites out of Egypt and guided 
them through the Red Sea and the Desert, taking 
the place of the “ pillars of cloud and of fire ” in 
the Biblical account of this incident. Moslems also 
hold that Khidhr-Elias, as he is often termed, though 
really one single individual, has a dual personality. 
He is regarded as the special protector of travellers, 
being invoked under the former name by those 
journeying on the sea, and under the latter by those 
journeying on land. Both parts of this dual person¬ 
age are believed to be perpetually wandering over 
the world, Khidhr on the sea, and Elias on the 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


27 


land, and to meet once a year at Mina, near Mekka, 
on the day of the “ Station of the Pilgrims.” He 
is thus connected with St. Nicholas, who performs 
the same good offices for the Greeks, and is the 
special patron of sailors. 1 St. Nicholas is also 
further confounded with f/ H)uo?, with Ali, thenephew 
of the Prophet, and with Phineas, the immortal 
hero of Talmudic legend who is credited with the per¬ 
formance of twelve miracles, and, according to that 
authority, destined, like Elias, to play an important 
part at the end of the world. This belief would 
appear to be illustrated in the question addressed 
to Jesus by his disciples : “Why say the Scribes 
that Elias must first come ? ” and in His answer 
that “ Elias is come already and they knew him 
not,” 2 as also in the popular Eastern belief in the 
periodic incarnation of this mythical being. 

Numerous instances are recorded in Moslem 
literature and legend of the sudden appearances and 
disappearances of Khidhr-Elias. By many he is 
held to be always visibly present somewhere on the 
earth, and like his prototype the Tishbite, is often 
“ carried by the Spirit of the Lord ” from place to 
place. Could he be recognised, a knowledge of the 
secret of immortality might be demanded of him ; 
but it is only a saintly man who can distinguish 
Khidhr from another. A Moslem desirous of an 

1 A Greek couplet says of this Saint:— 

He to our aid comes on the sea, 

And on the land works wondrously. 

2 Matt. xvii. 10, 12. 


28 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


interview with this mysterious being, must, accord¬ 
ing to Turkish popular belief, perform his devotions 
during forty consecutive days under the central 
dome of the mosque of St. Sofia at Constantinople, 
and on the fortieth day he is certain to be rewarded 
with a sight of Khidhr-Elias. Evliya Effendi, 
“ The Traveller,” himself a member of a distin¬ 
guished Dervish family, declares in his Narrative 1 
that “ thousands of holy men have here enjoyed 
the happiness of converse with that great Prophet.” 
And many are the quaint and fantastic legends 
current in the Turkish capital concerning interviews 
with this “ Master of Secrets.” 2 

One of these legends relates that a pious Turk 
who had undertaken the quest of Khidhr, met, on 
the fortieth day, in the vicinity of the mosque, a 
stranger, who said to him, “ The mosque is not yet 
open ; Why comest thou to disturb the sleep of its 
guardians ? ” 

“ I come to seek Khidhr,” he replied. 

“Dost thou know him ? ” 

“ I know him not.” 

“ Then follow me, and I will show him to thee.” 

Khidhr—for it was indeed he whom the True 
Believer had met—went on before him, and the 
pious man observed that his feet left an imprint on 
the stones over which he walked. 

1 Narrative of Travels, p. 60. 

2 One of these, more marvellous even than the following, 
is given by Evliya Effendi, who concludes it with the 
remark—“ The proof rests with the relater.” Part I, 
pp. 60-63. 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


29 


“ Dost thou know what Khidhr can do ? ” asked 
the stranger. 

“ No,” replied the pious man. 

“ Khidhr can thrust his finger into stone even as 
I do.” 

His finger entered the stone as he spoke, and the 
stone “perspired” abundantly. 1 

“ When thou seest a man who does wonders such 
as these, say to thyself, ‘ This is Khidhr ! ’ and hold 
him fast.” 

“ I will not fail,” he replied, and his companion 
disappeared. 

The pious man entered the mosque and related 
his adventure to its guardians. 

“ ’Twas Khidhr himself ! ” they cried. “ If thou 
see him again, fail not to hold him fast, and let him 
go only when he has fulfilled thy desire.” 

The man performed his devotions in the mosque 
for another forty days, and on the morning of the 
fortieth he met a stranger who accosted him as the 
other had done. 

“ I would see Khidhr,” he again replied. 

“ What seekest thou from him ? ” asked the 
stranger. 

Then the pious man concluded that this was 
indeed Khidhr, and he seized and held him fast. 

“ I am not Khidhr,” said the stranger. 

1 Stones into which Khidhr is believed to have thrust 
his finger are held to cure those afflicted with profuse 
perspiration. The sufferer inserts his finger into the cavity, 
strokes with it his forehead and eyelids, and, it is confidently 
asserted, “ goes away cured.” 


30 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


“ Yea, thou art he ! ” 

“ I am not. Suffer me to go on my way, and I 
will show thee Khidhr.” 

“ Yea, thou art indeed Khidhr,” insisted the pious 
man. “ Fulfil my desire, or I will proclaim aloud 
who thou art and others will then likewise seize and 
hold thee.” 

“ I tell thee again I am not he whom thou seekest. 
Thou wilt see Khidhr on Friday in the mosque at 
the hour of the noontide namaz. He who shall 
place himself on thy right hand at the moment the 
public prayers begin will be Khidhr ; hold him fast.” 
So saying, the stranger disappeared. 

Friday came, and the True Believer repaired to 
the mosque of St. Sofia for the noontide prayer. Just 
as the service was beginning, a man, dressed as an 
Usher of the Sublime Porte, placed himself on his 
right. As they came out of the mosque the pious 
man seized the Usher, saying, 

“ Thou art Khidhr ! I will not let thee go ! ” 

The Usher stoutly denied that he was other than 
his dress betokened him, and did his best to get 
away from the pious man. A long struggle ensued. 
The two men wrestled, fell, and rose again, until 
they came to the cemetery outside the Adrianople 
gate of the city. The window of a turbe 1 stood open, 
and the usher climbed through it, closely followed 
by the pious man, who still held on to his clothing, 
and after various turns, they came into a splendid 

1 The mausoleum erected over the tomb of a reputed 
saint. Many famous Dervishes are buried in this cemetery. 



A WANDERING DERVISH 


























THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


31 


subterranean hall. Round it were ranged forty 
sheepskin mats, thirty-eight of which were occupied 
by venerable-looking men. The stranger was the 
chief of the Forty, one of whom had just died, and 
the pious man was allowed to take his place. 

“ Thou mayst seat thee on any mat thou wilt 
save that which is reserved to me, said the Usher, 
who was the Sheikh of the Forty, as he and his 
companions prepared to go out on the morrow. 

The pious man obeyed, and remained in the 
underground dwelling for eight days, during which 
he was left alone from morning until sunset. But 
on the eighth day the True Believer, moved by 
curiosity, seated himself on the sheepskin of the 
Chief. Suddenly he saw as in one glance the whole 
world with everything in and upon it, even to the 
innermost thoughts of men, and was filled with 
wonder and delight. As the hour for the return 
of the thirty-nine approached, he took another seat, 
where they found him. 

“ What hast thou done ? ” they demanded in 
voices of thunder. 

“ I have done naught.” 

“ Yea, thou didst sit in the forbidden seat.” 

“ Nay, I did not,” mendaciously replied the pious 
man. 

But scarcely had he said the words than the hall 
became dark, and he found himself again in the 
cemetery outside the Adrianople gate. 

An anecdote recorded by Eflaki 1 as a proof of the 

1 Acts of the Adepts, Redhouse’s Mesnevi, p. 78. 


32 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


exceptional spiritual gifts of Jelalu-’d-DIn also 
illustrates the same belief regarding Khidhr. When 
this great Dervish poet was still quite young, he 
was one day preaching on the subject of Moses and 
Elias . 1 During the discourse one of his disciples 
noticed a stranger seated in a comer paying great 
attention, and every now and then exclaiming, 
“ Good ! ” “ Quite true ! ” “ Quite correct! ” “ He 
might have been the Third with Us Two ! ” etc. 
It occurred to the disciple that this might be Khidhr- 
Elias. He therefore grasped his garment, and begged 
for his spiritual aid. 

“ Oh ! ” said the stranger, “ seek aid rather from 
your master, as we all do. Every mystic saint of 
Allah is the loving and admiring friend of Jelal.” 

So saying, he disengaged his robe from the 
disciple’s grasp, and instantly vanished. 

The Murid then went to pay his respects to his 
master, who at once addressed him with the words, 
“ Elias and Moses and the Prophets are all friends 
of mine.” The Dervish understood the allusion, 
and became thereafter a still more ardent follower 
of his Sheikh. 

According to the mystical canon, there are always 
on earth a certain number of holy men who are 
admitted to intimate communion with the Deity. 
The one who occupies the highest position among 
his contemporaries is called the “ Axis ” ( Qutb ) or 
“ Pole ” of his time. As Elias was in his day an 
“ Axis,” and indeed as such held a higher spiritual 

1 Koran, Chap, xviii. 59-81. 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


33 


rank than all other Qiitbs, it is his privilege to appoint 
his successors in office. This prevalent belief accords 
curiously with the biblical story of his investiture 
of Elisha with his own miraculous powers and offices, 
and of the subjection of all contemporary Prophets 
to both in turn, and forms a strong link in the chain 
with which the Dervishes connect their doctrines 
and powers with those of the Prophets, Seers, and 
Patriarchs of old. These “ Poles ” are quite 
unrecognisable as such, save by other holy men, and 
may belong to any rank in life, as is illustrated 
in the following story told by Evliya Effendi. 

When the terrible conqueror, Timour the Tartar, 
was marching against Broussa, the alarmed inhabi¬ 
tants asked the eminent Dervish, Emir Sultan , 1 
who resided there, what would be the fate of their 
city. The Sheikh replied that, as Broussa was 
under the special protection of Khidhr and of 
Eskedji Hodja , 2 these holy men must be informed 
of the approach of the enemy. He accordingly sent 
a letter by the hand of one of his Dervishes to 
Eskedji Hodja, who was found in the Tartar camp. 
When the Saint, who was busy mending a torn 
garment, had read the missive, he stuck his needle 
into his turban, exclaiming, “ Emir Sultan shall be 
obeyed ! ” and before he had finished putting his 
work into his bag, the camp was, at his unuttered 

1 Complimentary titles of “ Pasha,” "Emir,” or “ Sultan ” 
were frequently bestowed on learned men in the palmy days 
of the Ottoman Empire. See pp. 61 and 167. 

2 Literally “ The Patching-tailor Parson.” 


34 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


command, broken up. “ For,” adds the narrator, 
“ this old tailor was a Qutb, a * Pole of Poles,’ and 
a Chief among Saints.” 

Subordinate to the Qutb are two holy beings who 
bear the title of “ The Faithful Ones,” and are 
assigned places on his right and left respectively. 
Below these is a quartette of “ Intermediate Ones ” 
(Evtad) ; and on successively lower planes are five 
“ Lights ” ( Envar ), and seven “ Very Good ” 

( Akhyar ). The next rank is filled by forty “ Absent 
Ones ” (Rijal-i-ghaib), also termed “ Martyrs ” 
(Shuheda). When an “ Axis ” quits this earthly 
existence, he is succeeded by the “ Faithful One ” 
who has occupied the place at his right hand, and 
the vacancies thus caused are filled up from the 
successive ranks. 

“ The Absent Ones ” are said to have a circular 
plan, or map, of the world, having for its centre 
the holy city of Mekka. It is divided into thirty 
sections corresponding with the days of the Moham¬ 
medan month, and on it are also denoted the points 
of the compass. The Forty set out from Mekka 
every morning in the direction indicated by their 
map for that day, returning before the end of 
twenty-four hours to make their report to the 
“ Axis.” Any one possessing a copy of their map 
can, by consulting it, ascertain where the “ Absent 
Ones ” may be found at a given time, and by placing 
himself in their path may obtain from them what¬ 
ever spiritual boon he may desire. For to these holy 
men, who also bear the collective titles of “ Lords 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


35 


of Souls,” and “ Directors , 1 is committed a spiritual 
supremacy over mankind far exceeding the temporal 
authority of earthly rulers. The transactions and 
designs of every individual are believed to be under 
their control, and must receive their approval, or 
at least permission, before they can be carried into 
effect. For they are the Deputies of the Prophets and 
Saints who have left the world, and to them is 
divulged the will of Allah with regard to the actions 
of men. 

According to Mr. Lane’s 2 account of these mystical 
beings the “ Axis ” is, like Khidhr, “ often seen, but 
not recognised as such ; and the same is said of all 
who hold authority under him. He always has a 
humble demeanour and mean dress, and mildly 
reproves those whom he finds acting impiously, 
particularly those who have a false reputation for 
sanctity. Though he is unknown to the world, his 
favourite stations are well known, yet at these places 
he is seldom visible. It is asserted that he is almost 
constantly seated on the roof of the Ka’abah ; and 
though never seen there, is always heard at mid¬ 
night to cry twice, ‘ O Thou most merciful of those 

1 Sadi thus refers in his Gulistan to these mystical beings. 
(I quote from Mr. Davis’s translation.) 

A group of Directors, in lonely retreat, 

With their breath full of fire, although earthly their feet— 
They root up a hill from its site, with a cry ; 

And a kingdom demolish at once, with a sigh. 

Like the wind they’re unseen, and of hurricane speed ; 
Like stones they are silent, and rosaries read. 

2 The Modern Egyptians. 


36 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


who show mercy ! ’ which cry is then repeated by 
the Moeddins from the minarets of the temple ; but 
a respectable pilgrim, whom I have just questioned 
upon this matter, has confessed to me that he 
himself has witnessed that this cry is made by a 
regular minister of the mosque, yet that few pilgrims 
know this : he believes, however, that the roof of 
the Ka’abah is the chief station of the ‘Axis.’ 
Another favourite resort of this revered and 
unknown person is the gate of Cairo. Though he has 
a number of favourite stations, he does not abide 
solely at these, but, like Khidhr, wanders through 
the world, among persons of every religion, whose 
appearance, dress, and language he assumes ; and 
distributes to mankind, chiefly through the agency 
of the subordinate Welees, the evils and blessings 
apportioned to each by his Kismet .” 

Mr. J. P. Brown also describes an encounter 
which a Dervish friend of his had with one of 
these " Lords of Souls,” or, as he terms them, 
“ Spiritual Owners,” while on a pilgrimage to the 
tomb of the Khalif Ali. His name was Jemel-ed- 
Din of Kufa, and the Dervish described him as a 
person of middle stature, perfectly naked, with 
scanty hair and beard, of feeble frame, and 
apparently some forty to fifty years of age. When 
the Dervish came up with him in the desert and 
alighted from his horse for the purpose of offering 
his homage, the saint turned round suddenly, and 
cried in a loud voice, “ Go to Allah ! ” The pilgrim 
was too startled and frightened to kiss the hand of 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


37 


the holy man as he had intended, and returned 
to Kufa, which place he had passed on his way. 
On enquiring at the mosque there for the abode of 
this Saint, he was shown a spot near the tomb of 
the Khalif Ali’s nephew, where he was said to sleep 
on a mat of date-palm leaves, with a stem for his 
pillow. The Dervish asked how he was supported, 
and in what way he passed his time ; but could 
obtain no further information about him, save that 
he came there every night to sleep, and left again 
in the morning for the desert. This person, it 
appears, died in 1882 (A.H. 1260,) and has been 
succeeded in his saintly rank by an individual of 
the name of Beder ed Din, who will live till 1902 
(A.H. 1280) when the “ Last of the Saints ” will 
take his place. 1 

Below the “ Absent Ones ” is another class of 
saints called Abdals, from among whom the higher 
ranks are recruited as vacancies occur. These 
persons would, I fear, in more highly civilised 
countries be termed idiots or lunatics. Orientals, 
however, treat with reverence what they cannot 
explain ; and, according to the popular belief, the 
Abdals are beings so holy that their souls have 
already found their way to heaven, and their bodies 
are consequently left on earth without the guidance 
of ordinary reason. As none but Allah knows who 
has in reality been promoted to fill the place of a 
defunct “ Absent One,” any Abddl may be credited 
with that honour. The result of this reputation 

1 The Dervishes. 

4-(211 9 ) 


38 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


for sanctity enjoyed by Abdals is that they are 
allowed to wander at large over the country, some¬ 
times half clad, sometimes completely naked, 
following the bent of their errant fancies ; and the 
wilder and more extraordinary their vagaries, the 
greater is their renown for virtue and holiness. 
They are no respecters of persons, but denounce 
with impunity high and low, pasha or peasant, who 
may chance to incur their anger or dislike ; and 
though the more enlightened portion of the public 
may estimate these maniacs at their just value, 
they will at the same time avoid any collision 
with them, as their abusive threats when excited 
are attributed by the ignorant to divine 
inspiration. 

Many of those, however, who are termed Abdals, 
or Perishans, are in full enjoyment of all their 
faculties, but, possessed by an aversion for their 
fellow-men, shun their abodes, and, like the hermits 
of Christendom, retire to mountains and deserts 
where, fed perhaps on “ locusts and wild honey ” 
—though the popular belief credits them with the 
faculty of being able to dispense altogether with 
food—they live in harmony with wild animals 
whose fierceness or timidity they overcome by means 
of their wonderful spiritual powers. 

A succession of famous Abdals has existed in 
Turkey extending from the time of the conquest to 
the present day, and the renown of many has been 
so great that we find their sayings and doings 
chronicled by the historians and writers of their 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


39 


times. During the reign of Sultan Orchan, the most 
famous were Abddl Mousa and Abdal Murad, who 
were with the army at the conquest of Broussa, 
and whose tombs in that city are still visited by 
devout pilgrims. The “ Sultan of all Saint-fools,” 
commonly called Sabah-Sabah, was, according to 
Evliya Effendi, 1 the son of a sergeant of the Jani- 
series, and lived in the reign of Mohammed IV. 
Having foretold his father’s death on the day before 
it took place, the word Sabah (to-morrow) was 
retained by him as his nickname. During the Grand 
Vizierate of Kara Mustapha, he one day made a 
great disturbance at the Divan by clamouring for 
the liberation of his mother, who had been impris¬ 
oned for smoking tobacco, a practice, it would 
appear, not then permitted to women. “ Release,” 
he cried, “ the women, and imprison the men if 
you will, for I have no father.” “ Thus,” adds the 
narrator, “ he got his mother released.” 

Among the many Saints and other Dervishes who 
accompanied the army of Mohammed III in his 
campaign into Hungary, was an individual who 
held a Colonel’s commission. When the war was 
over he was speechless for seven years, and then 
was only heard to repeat the words Yetniish grush 
(seventy piastres), by which name he was thereafter 
called. He, however, subsequently prophesied to 
Sultan Murad IV that he would take Erivan and 
lose it again within seven days. This Sultan was 
known to assert that, though “ Yetmish grush ” 

1 Narrative of Travel. 


40 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


had remained behind in Constantinople, he per¬ 
petually heard in the camp the prophetic words of 
the Abdal. This saintly personage affected the 
dress of a soldier of the Bosnian frontier, and 
possessed the strange faculty of walking about the 
muddy streets of the capital without soiling even 
the soles of his babouches —a miraculous feat, indeed, 
if the state of the streets in wet weather was then 
anything like what it is at the present day. 

Another famous Abdal of those times, Durmich 
D6d6h, frequented the Castle of Rumili, at the 
entrance of the Bosphorus, and sailors were in 
the habit of propitiating him on their arrival in port 
with an oka (about 2f lbs.) of meat. He advised 
ship captains concerning the voyages they were 
about to make. If they followed his counsel, it 
turned to their advantage ; but if they disregarded 
it, ill luck was sure to accompany them. Those 
who passed him on their way to the Divan were also 
forewarned, by his behaviour towards them, whether 
they were or were not likely to prosper that day 
in their suits at law. 1 

That this canonisation of persons of weak intellect 
still continues, will be seen from the following story, 
as related to Lady Blunt and myself by Sheikh Ali, 
a Bektashi of Salonica. I give, as nearly as possible, 
a literal translation of his own words :— 

“ My younger brother had been, from his child¬ 
hood, of an erratic and unmanageable disposition. 
It was impossible to teach him anything, and he 

1 Narrative of Travel. 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


41 


spent the greater part of his time in roaming from 
village to village, fed by the charitable, but housed 
I know not how, and occasionally returning home 
to me for a few days. As he grew older, he became 
confirmed in these wandering habits, and was seldom 
at home. He returned one day from a prolonged 
excursion complaining that he felt unwell, and 
asked to be allowed to lie down in my room. He 
was very thirsty and feverish, and ere long smallpox 
declared itself. The elders of the Tekkeh, at my 
request, came in and prayed over him. When they 
had finished, he smiled, thanked them, and requested 
that they would come again in four days’ time, at 
the same hour, for on that day, at noon, he would 
die. The Dervishes, deeply affected, promised to 
do as he wished, and withdrew. For the next three 
days he was unconscious, his sight failed, and I saw 
that his case was hopeless. On the fourth day, at 
the hour he had mentioned, he came to himself, and 
asked me to send for the Brethren. I did so, and 
they again prayed over him. Then, turning to me, 
he said, ‘ My brother, I have been a sore burden to 
you all my life. I pray you, make me helal 1 (free 
gift) of all the bread I have eaten at your hands, so 
that I may depart in peace.’ I made the helal , 
holding the poor saint’s head on my knees. He 
then said, ‘ I am content,’ and breathed his last 

1 One of the ceremonies at a Moslem funeral is the giving 
of helal by the friends and relatives of the defunct. It 
conveys pardon for any offence committed towards them, 
and is the Moslem equivalent for the Christian requiescat in 
pace. 


42 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


just as the clock struck the hour of noon. My 
community pronounced him an evliya 1 (saint) and 
he was buried with the honour due to one who had 
held communion with Allah.” 

Patron saints also hold no unimportant place in 
this mystical hierarchy. They include, besides 
defunct Dervishes of peculiar holiness, all the more 
famous biblical characters ; and their protection is 
perhaps specially claimed by the numerous esnafs 
or trade guilds. Thus the Bakers, who, according 
to Evliya Effendi, have precedence over all other 
guilds of handicraftsmen, and enjoy the honourable 
title of “ Columns of Faith,” have for their patron 
Adam, who, say the Moslems, was forbidden to eat 
of the corn-tree in Paradise, but having transgressed 
the divine command, he was exiled to earth, where 
Gabriel brought again to him the corn, which he 
boiled and converted into soup. Hence the form 
of invitation usual now in the East : “ Come, let 

us eat the Father’s soup (ash baba) together ! ” 
Gabriel then taught Adam to grind the corn and 
make it into bread. 

The mythical Jemshid, 2 who is reputed to have 
lived a thousand years and to have invented three 
hundred arts, protects, among others, the Firework- 
makers. The patron saint of the Coffee-makers is 

1 This plural form of the Arabic word is popularly used 
as a singular noun. 

2 Jemshid was the fourth king of the first Persian dynasty 
mentioned in the Shah Narneh, where he is described as 
having been eminent in learning and wisdom. When he 


THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY 


43 


Ebul Hassan Schaseli, who discovered the virtues 
of the Mocha berry ; that of the Gardeners is Babi 
Reten, a recluse of Mount Olympus, learned in 
botany ; and that of the Dentists, or rather barber 
tooth-drawers. Sheikh Uwais, mentioned in the 
preceding chapter. 


had reached the summit of his power and glory, he was 
able to compel the very demons to labour for him in 
building a glorious palace. 

He taught the unholy demon train to knead 
Water and clay, with which, formed into bricks, 

The walls were built, and then high turrets, towers, 
And balconies, and roofs to keep out rain 
And cold and sunshine. Every art was known 
To Jemshid, without rival in the world. 



CHAPTER III 

THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 

“ The Mystic Word, clad in poetic dress, 

The shadow is of that proclaimed by Prophet tongue ; 
Majestic strideth Prophecy in foremost rank, 

While follows humbly in its footsteps Poesy. ” 

One of the chief peculiarities of Persian and Ottoman 
poetical writings is that they almost always contain, 
concealed beneath their literal meaning, an esoteric 
and spiritual signification. A certain number of 
famous poems, such as, for instance, the Turkish 
“ Diwan of Ashik Pasha,” and the Persian “ Mesnevi 
of Jelalu’-d-DIn, may, indeed, be read for the most 
part for what they appear on the surface to be— 
religious or moral works. But nearly all the long 
Persian romances in verse called Mesnevi, the 
charming love-stories of Leyla and Mejnoun, of 
Khusruf and Shirin, of Yusuf and Zulaikha, 
the Mantic Uttair , and many others, are allegorical 
representations of the yearning of the soul of man 
for union with the Deity, or its love of and quest for 
the highest type of spiritual beauty and goodness— 
an object attained only when the heart has been 
purified by the severest and most painful trials. 

The Ghazels, or odes, present the same character¬ 
istic as the longer poems. Though on the surface 
either mere bacchanalian verses or voluptuous love 
songs, they are, to those who possess the key to 
their symbolic imagery, the fervent outpourings of 
hearts ecstasied, or, as they express it, intoxicated 

44 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 45 


with spiritual love. For every word in these effusions 
has its mystical signification. It has indeed been 
asserted that “ every word of Sadi possesses seventy- 
two different meanings ” ; and the symbolism of 
his verse he himself thus explains :— 

Think not, O Khizr, thou favoured of Fortune, 

When I of " Wine ” sing, the juice of the grape I am 
praising. 

" Wine ” is to me that which 'bove self exalteth ; 

None other ever doth gladden my banquet. 

Know that my '‘Cupbearer ” is but of vow the fulfilment; 

“ Draught ” from the “ Tavern ” ecstatic oblivion. 

Heaven is my witness that long as on earth I have 
sojourned, 

Ne’er hath the tip of my lips with the red wine been 
stained. 

The “ Fair One ” for whom in these ghazds Man, 
the “ Lover,” sighs, is the Deity ; as is also the 
“ Loved One ” whom he entreats to throw off the 
veil that conceals His perfect beauty from view. 
The “ Ruby Lip ” signifies the unspoken, but heard 
and understood, words of God ; “ nestling in the 
Fair One’s tresses ” denotes comprehension of the 
hidden attributes of the Divinity ; the “ Embrace ” 
is the revelation to man of the divine mysteries ; 
“ Separation ” or ” Absence ” from the “ Loved 
One ” is the non-attainment of oneness with the 
Deity. “ Wine ” is the Divine Love ; the “ Cup¬ 
bearer ” the spiritual instructor, the “ giver of the 
goblet of celestial aspiration ” ; the " Libertine ” 
the Saint who has become careless of human conven¬ 
tionalities ; the “ Tavern,” a place where one mor¬ 
tifies sensuality, and relinquishes his name and 


46 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


worldly fame. The “ Zephyr ” is the breathing of 
the Divine Spirit; the “ Taper,” the heavenly light 
kindling the “ Torch,” which is the heart of the 
Lover, Man ; and so on through every detail. These 
ghazels breathe, indeed, in every line a spirit of 
ravishment and ecstasy, “ picturing the whole 
creation as filled with the Divine Love by which 
even the most humble plant is excited to seek the 
sublime object of its desires.” 1 

One of the earliest and most famous of the Dervish 
poets was Mohammed ben Ibrahim of Nischapur, 
on whom was conferred the honorific title of Farid- 
’d-Din (“ Pearl of the Faith ”), and who was also 
known by the soubriquet of “Attar ” from his trade 
as a perfumer. He was born in 1119, and at the 
advanced age of a hundred and ten was massacred 
by the Mongols under Yenghiz Khan. One day, 
when he was in his shop, a passing Dervish stopped 
before him, cast a glance over his wares, and heaved 
a deep sigh. Attar, surprised, begged him to go on 
his way. “ Thou art right,” replied the stranger, 
“ the road to eternity is easy for me ; I have no 
encumbrances, for all I possess in the world is my 
mantle. Unfortunately it is not so with thee, who 
possessest so much valuable merchandise. But take 
heed that thou also prepare thyself for that journey .” 
This advice, according to the biographers, made a 
great impression on Attar’s mind, and finally caused 
him to give up his business and the world in order 
to consecrate himself exclusively to the service of 
1 Ubicini, Letters, p. 101. 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 47 


God. For several years he abandoned himself to 
physical mortifications and religious practices, and 
subsequently made the pilgrimage to Mekka. He 
also frequented the society of men famed for eminent 
piety, and by this means collected the vast store of 
anecdotes with which he embellished and illustrated 
his writings, these anecdotes being considered 
valuable fragments of Moslem biography. In his 
old age Attar received at Nischapur the visit of 
Jelalu-’d-DIn, to whom he presented a copy of his 
work, the “ Asrar Nama ,” or “ Book of Secrets,” the 
perusal of which was said to have greatly influenced 
the younger poet. The most famous of Attar’s 
works is, however, the “Mantic Uttair ,” or “Lan¬ 
guage of the Birds,” a long poem which represents in 
allegorical form the Soul’s Quest for the Divine Love. 
The Birds had hitherto lived as a Republic, but they 
felt the necessity of having a King, and took counsel 
of the Hoopoe who, as she had, according to Moslem 
legend, accompanied Solomon on his journey to 
Sheba, was supposed to be the best judge of the 
qualities requisite in a King. The Hoopoe proposed 
to them as sovereign the Shnorg, a wonderful bird 
whose abode was in the Caucasus, and whose 
excellent qualities she set forth. The birds accept 
Simorg as their King ; but many are dismayed by 
the dangers of the way and the length of the journey 
to his abode. A company of Birds finally set out, 
but the greater number perish by the way of 
hunger, thirst, or fatigue. At length, after passing 
through many trials and dangers, thirty survivors 


48 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


only reach the goal of their journey, when they find 
in themselves the object of their quest—the Simorg, 
a word which, in Persian, signifies “ thirty birds.” 
This consummation is thus described by the poet. 
When the birds have been introduced by the 
Chamberlain into the presence of the Simorg :— 

They on the Throne of Nearness take their seat 
In glory and in majesty’s high place. 

The Sun of Nearness on them shed His rays, 

And, mirrored in each face, these Birds of Earth 
Saw the Simorg, the Bird of Heaven ; 

And when on Him they gazed, but Thirty Birds beheld, 
Strange wonderment then fell upon their minds. 

Were they still Thirty Birds ? Or were they now Simorg ? 

They asked themselves, and yet it seemed 

That they Simorg were now, and He the Thirty Birds. 

* * * * 

Then mutely craved the meaning to be shown 
Of this Plurality and Unity combined ; 

And, without words, this did Simorg reply : 

“ The Sun that from my majesty rays forth 
A mirror is. Whoso approacheth near, 

Therein reflected may himself behold, 

His body and his soul, himself complete. 

Since you as Thirty Birds are hither come, 

You in this mirror but those Birds behold. 

Thus in my radiance be still lost, absorbed, 

That you yourselves may ever find in me.” 

The Birds were in Simorg thenceforward lost, 

As are the sunrays lost within the sun. 

The following passage from the same work pre¬ 
sents another aspect of the Sufi doctrines, the 
pantheistic conception of Creation. It is addressed 
by the spiritually minded Hoopoe to the other 
Birds :— 

Come ! of this King admire the handiwork, 

Though less than naught it in His eyes appears. 



THE ADRIANOPLE GATE, STAMBOUL, LEADING TO THE 
DERVISH CEMETERY 










THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 49 


And, as His Essence all the world pervades, 

Naught in Creation is, save this alone. 

Upon the waters has He fixed His Throne, 

This earth suspended in the starry space. 

Yet what are seas and what is air ? for all 
Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth 
To veil Divinity. For Heaven and earth, 

Did He not permeate them, were but names. 

Know then, that both this visible world, and that 
Which unseen is, alike are God Himself. 

Naught is, save God ; and all that is, is God. 

And yet, alas I by how few is He seen. 

Blind are men’s eyes, though all resplendent shines 
The world by Deity’s own light illumed. 

O Thou whom man perceiveth not, although 
To him Thou deignest to make known Thyself ; 

Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou. 

The soul within the body lies concealed, 

And Thou dost hide Thyself within the soul. 

O soul in soul ! Myst’ry in myst’ry hid ! 

Before all wert Thou, and art more than all! 1 

Sadi was a fellow-disciple with Baha-’d-DIn 2 
(father of the great poet of Konieh) of the famous 
Sheikh Sa’ed-’d-Din of Kashgar, 3 who instructed 
him in theology and in the principles of Sufi phil¬ 
osophy ; and in the company of this teacher he 
made the first of his fourteen pilgrimages to Mekka. 
Sadi was a great traveller. Besides his Eastern 
journeys in Armenia, Arabia, and India, he also 
visited Europe, Egypt, and Barbary. On one 
occasion he was captured by the Crusaders and 
made to work in the ditch at Tripoli. From this 
slavery he was rescued by a merchant of Aleppo, 

1 See Garcin de Tassy, Mantic Uttair. 

2 Mentioned on p. 148 

s Ibid. 


50 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


who recognised the poet, paid his ransom, and 
subsequently gave him his daughter in marriage. 
The last thirty years of Sadi’s long and adventurous 
life—he lived to the great age of a hundred and 
sixteen—were spent at Shiraz, a town situated 
among charming natural scenery, and blessed with 
a delicious climate. Here he wrote the two works 
on which his fame chiefly rests, the Gulistdn, 
or “ Rosary,” and the Bostan, or “ Garden.” The 
first consists of prose anecdotes interspersed with 
couplets, verses, and moral apologues ; while the 
second is entirely a poetical work. The writings of 
Sadi are replete with wise proverbial sayings, pious 
reflections, and moral precepts, but Sufi mysticism 
also finds a large place in them. In Oriental fashion 
he thus addresses himself :— 

Sadi, move thou to Resignation’s shrine. 

O man of God, the path of God be thine ! 

Hapless is he who from this Haven turns. 

All doors shall spurn him who this Portal spurns. 

The tolerance and goodwill to all mankind, irre¬ 
spective of race or creed, so often met with among 
the more enlightened Sufis, formed an admirable 
part of Sadi’s character, and found expression as 
follows :— 

All Adam’s race are members of one frame, 

Since all, at first, from the same essence came. 
When, by hard fortune is one limb opprest, 

The other members lose their wonted rest, 

If thou feel not for others’ misery, 

A son of Adam is no name for thee. 

The Mesnevi of Jelalu-’d-DIn surpasses, in 
Oriental estimation, all other works of the kind by 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 51 


Moslem writers. The word Mesnevi signifies at once 
the verse-form—a rhymed distich of not less than 
twelve couplets—in which romance or epic poetry 
is written, and the poem itself; and the work of 
the poet of Konieh is by common consent termed 
simply The Mesnevi , or “ Poem of Poems.” Like 
all the early Dervish literature, it is in Persian, and 
consists of a number of pieces written in the form of 
apologues, with digressions on Sufi doctrines. The 
work is divided into six Books or Parts, and contains 
twenty-six thousand six hundred and sixty couplets. 1 
Like his forerunner, Sadi, the great founder of the 
Mevlevi Order preaches tolerance and large-minded¬ 
ness, as in the following charming parable which I 
give in Mr. Whinfield’s prose translation :— 

“ Moses once heard a shepherd praying as follows : 
‘ O God, show me where Thou art that I may become 
Thy servant. I will clean Thy shoes, and comb Thy 
hair, and sew Thy clothes, and fetch Thee milk.’ 
When Moses heard him praying in this senseless 
manner, he rebuked him, saying, ‘ O foolish one, 

1 Portions only of the Mesnevi have, so far as my?know¬ 
ledge goes, as yet been translated into any European 
language. The late Sir James Redhouse published in 
Trubner’s Oriental Series a volume containing translations 
of a number of pieces from the First Book of that work. 
The renderings of the late Orientalist are, however, often 
grotesque in their exceeding baldness ; while comparison 
with Mr. Whinfield’s literal prose translations of the same 
passages makes it evident that, in order to meet the exi¬ 
gencies of rhyme and metre, many words and phrases have 
been added which completely obscure the sense of the 
original lines. 


52 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


though your father was a Moslem, you have become 
an infidel! God is a spirit, and needs not such gross 
ministrations as in your ignorance you suppose.’ 
The shepherd was abashed at the Prophet’s rebuke ; 
he tore his clothes and fled away into the desert. 
Then a voice from heaven was heard, saying, ‘ O 
Moses, wherefore hast thou driven away My servant ? 
Thine office it is to reconcile my people with Me, not 
to drive them away from Me. I have given to 
men different usages and forms of praising and of 
adoring Me. I have no need of their praises, being 
exalted high above all such needs. I regard not 
the words which are spoken, but the heart that 
offers them.’ ” 

The following poem, which forms a kind of Pro¬ 
logue to the Mesnevi , was translated a century 
ago by the celebrated Orientalist, Sir William 
Jones :— 1 


SONG OF THE REED-FLUTE 2 

Hear how yon reed, in sadly pleasing tales, 
Departed bliss and present woe bewails : 

“ With me, from native banks untimely torn, 
Love-warbling youths and soft-eyed virgins mourn. 
O ! let the heart by fatal absence rent, 

Feel what I sing, and bleed when I lament: 

Who roams in exile from his parent bower, 

Pants to return, and chides each lingering hour. 
My notes in circles of the grave and gay, 

Have hailed the rising, cheered the closing day. 
Each in my fond affections claimed a part, 

But none discerned the secret of my heart. 

1 The Works, Vol. I. 

1 See p. 110. The Mystic Reed-flute. 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 53 


What though my strains and sorrows slow combined, 
Yet ears are dull, and carnal eyes are blind. 

Free through each mortal form the spirits roll, 

But sighs avail not. Can we see the soul ? ” 

Such notes breathed gently from yon vocal frame. 
Breathed, said I ? No ! 'Twas all enlivening flame. 

’Tis love that fills the reed with warmth divine; 

’Tis love that sparkles in the rosy wine. 

The plaintive wand’rer from my peerless maid, 

The reed has fired, and all my soul betrayed. 

He gives the bane and he with balsam cures ; 

Afflicts, yet soothes, impassions, yet allures. 

Hail, heavenly Love ! true source of endless gains ! 
Thy balm restores me, and thy skill sustains. 

O more than Galen learned, than Plato wise, 

My guide, my law, my joy supreme, arise ! 

Love warms this frigid clay with mystic fire, 

And dancing mountains leap with young desire. 

Blest is the soul that swims in seas of love, 

And long the life sustained by food above. 

With forms imperfect can perfection dwell ? 

Here pause, my song ; and thou, vain world, farewell ! 

The following charming little parable, so 
essentially Sufi in spirit, is already a favourite 
with Europeans. It is from “ The Lion’s Hunt ”:— 

A Dervish once to his Friend’s door drew nigh, and knocked. 
“ Who art thou, Faithful One ? ” was asked, ere ’twas 
unlocked. 

“ ’Tis I,” the Dervish cried. “ Then in thou mayst not 
come ; 

For at my well-dressed feast there is for raw no room,” 
Replied the Friend. “ But separation’s fiery smart 
Can purify the crude, and cleanse from guile his heart. 
Since from the bonds of self thou art not yet set free, 
By fiery flame alone canst thou refined be.” 

The Dervish went away. For one whole weary year 
Did wander, grief-consumed, his Friend no longer near. 

5—(si 19) 


54 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Then, cleansed at length by fire till self became as naught, 
He turned him back again ; his Friend’s abode he sought, 
And at His door he knocked, with trembling hand and 
meek, 

Fearing some careless word his foolish lips might speak. 
Again then asked the Friend : “ Who at my door knocks 
low ? ” 

He answered only, “ O Belov’d, Belov’d, ’tis thou ! ” 

“ Since ’tis Myself that knocks, the door stands open wide— 
But could two I’s beneath one roof in peace abide ? ” 1 

The following passage, also from the Mesnevi , 
refers to the Dervish Pir, Bayazid Bestemi, men¬ 
tioned in the first chapter, and interestingly illus¬ 
trates the Sufi doctrine of union with the Deity. 
When on his pilgrimage to Mekka, Bayazid visited 
all the “ Pillars of Insight ” who had their abodes 
in the various towns through which he had to pass. 
One day he had the happiness to discover the 
“ Axis,” 2 or greatest saint of the time, in the 
person of a venerable Dervish with whom he held 
the following conversation :— 

“ Say now, O Bayazid, to what town art thou bound, 
Where will thy weary caravan its rest have found ? ” 

“ At dawn I to the holy Ka’aba 3 take my way.” 

“ But how wilt thou the cost of that long journey pay ? ” 

“ Two hundred silver dirhems do I bear with me, 

Sewn in the corner of my cloak for safety, see ! ” 

“ Walk sev’n times round me, Bayazid,” the Sage then said. 
" Greater thy gain than hadst the Ka’aba’s circuit made ! 
As for thy dirhems, liberal one, give them to me, 

For now thy journey’s o’er, thou thy desire dost see. 

Thy Pilgrimage is made, Eternal Life hast gained, 

Heav’n’s purity in one brief moment hast attained. 

1 Versified from Mr. Whinfield’s prose translation. 

2 See p. 32. 

3 The Sanctuary at Mekka. 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 55 


That which thy soul in me doth see is truly God, 

For He hath chosen me to make me His abode. 

Unto the Ka’aba He His Grace and Favour shows. 

But to my body He His Secret doth disclose. 

Hath He, since He that house built, e’en to enter deigned ? 
But, save th’ Eternal One, none entrance here hath gained. 
When Thou hast me beheld, then Allah hast thou seen. 
And round about the holy Ka’aba thou hast been. 

Thou servest me, and Allah worshipped is, and praised ; 
For think not He so high above all men is raised. 

Thy mind’s eye open wide, and fix thou it on me 
That, in a mortal, Thou the Light of God mayst see. 

Once only the Belov’d * My House ’ the Ka’aba named, 
But me He seventy times has as ‘ His Servant ’ 1 claimed. 
O happy Bayazid, thou hast the Ka’aba found, 

And now art with a thousand precious blessings crowned ! ” 

Jelalu-’d-Din also left behind him a large collec¬ 
tion of ghazels, or odes. This is a verse-form which 
may contain from three to twenty-five distichs, the 
two first lines rhyming with the second line of each 
succeeding couplet. This peculiarity of rhyme has, 
however, been disregarded in the following ghazels , 
translated by Professor Falconer, but may be 
remarked in Mr. Gibb’s renderings of ghazels by 
Ottoman poets :— 

All earthly forms, where beauty dwells enshrined, 

That beauty borrow from the Infinite mind, 

Why grieve we when the faint reflections fade ?— 
Their source and prototype are undecayed. 

The form whose beauty woos the raptured eye. 

The strain that steeps the soul in ecstasy, 

When that hath vanished, and this ceased to flow, 

Why weep and call it death, which seems but so ? 

1 Alluding to a passage in the Hadis or Traditions, 
which says, “ Heaven and earth cannot contain me, but the 
heart of my faithful Servant containeth me ! ” 


56 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Long as the gushing fount its circle fills. 

Can it forget to feed its thousand rills ? 

Thy soul a fount is—thoughts, shapes, sounds of earth 
Flow thence, as rivers from their source have birth. 

See, to what precious metal is refined 
Ignoble dust, when linked to godlike mind ; 

Nor doubt when thou hast filled thy part as man, 

Angel awaits thee in the mighty plan, 

With starry heaven thy home—a bright abode, 

Far from the spot thy mortal footsteps trode. 

Nor yet at Angel shall thy being’s motion 
Be stayed, but onward press to Being’s ocean. 

There shall thy atom-drop become a sea, 

Vast as a hundred deeps, wide, weltering, boundless, free, 
Then boldly, son, proclaim in faith and truth, 

This creed : Though forms decay, souls own a deathless youth. 

Passing on to the fifteenth century, we come to 
Jam!, who was bom in the year 1414 at the town 
of Jam in Khorassan, from which he took his pen- 
name. To his real name of Abdul-rahman was 
added that of Nur-’d-DIn (“ Light of the Faith ”), 
and in later years his fame for learning and sanctity 
gained also for him that of Mevlana (“ Our Lord ” 
or “ Master ”). Jami left behind him at least fifty 
volumes of poetry, grammar, and theology, which 
are still read and admired in the Eastern world. 
Seven of his best mystical poems are called The 
Seven Thrones, but the most famous of all is his 
Yusuf and Zulaikha, considered by European 
authorities to be one of the finest compositions in 
the Persian language. 1 Of the following passages 
the first and second are taken from the introductory, 

1 See Preface to Rozenzweig's translation of Yusuf and 
Zulaikha , also his Analysis and Specimens of the Joseph and 
Zulaikha , 1872. Griffith, Yusuf and Zulaikha , 1882. 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 57 


and the third from one of the concluding cantos of 
this poem. In this touching story of the loves of 
Joseph and “ Potiphar’s Wife ” is symbolised the 
yearning of the human soul for the highest moral 
beauty and perfection :— 

(I) 

In solitude, where Being signless dwelt, 

And all the Universe still dormant lay 
Concealed in selfishness, One Being was 
Exempt from “ I-” or “ Thou ”-ness, and apart 
From all duality ; Beauty Supreme, 

Unmanifest, except unto itself 

By its own light, yet fraught with power to charm 

The souls of all ; concealed in the Unseen, 

An essence pure, unstained by aught of ill. 

No mirror to reflect Its loveliness, 

Nor comb to touch Its locks ; the morning breeze 
Ne’er stirred Its tresses ; no collyrium 
Lent lustre to Its eyes ; no rosy cheeks 
O’ershadowed by dark curls like hyacinth, 

Nor peach-like down were there ; no dusky mole 
Adorned Its face ; no eye had yet beheld 
Its image. To Itself it sang of love 
In wordless measures. By Itself it cast 
The die of love. 

But Beauty cannot brook 
Concealment and the veil, nor patient rest 
Unseen and unadmired : ’twill burst all bonds, 

And from Its prison casement to the world 
Reveal Itself. See where the tulip grows 
In upland meadows, how in balmy spring 
It decks itself ; and how amidst its thorns. 

The wild rose rends its garment, and reveals 

Its loveliness. Thou, too, when some rare thought 

Or beauteous image, or deep mystery 

Flashes across thy soul, canst not endure 

To let it pass, but hold’st it, that perchance 

In speech or writing thou may’st send it forth 

To charm the world. 


58 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Wherever Beauty dwells 
Such is its nature, and its heritage 
From Everlasting Beauty, which emerged 
From realms of purity to shine upon 
The worlds, and all the souls that dwell therein. 

One gleam fell from It on the Universe 
And on the angels, and this single ray 
Dazzled the angels till their senses whirled 
Like the revolving sky. In divers forms 
Each mirror showed It forth, and everywhere 
Its praise was chanted in new harmonies. 

* * * * * 

Each speck of matter did He constitute 
A mirror, causing each one to reflect 
The beauty of His visage. From the rose 
Flashed forth His beauty, and the nightingale, 
Beholding it, loved madly. From that Light 
The candle drew the lustre which beguiles 
The moth to immolation. On the sun 
His Beauty shone, and straightway from the wave 
The lotus reared its head. Each shining lock 
Of Leyla’s hair attracted Mejuun’s heart 
Because some ray divine reflected shone 
In her fair face. ’Twas He to Shirin’s lips 
Who lent that sweetness which had power to steal 
The heart from Parviz, and from Ferhad life. 

His Beauty everywhere doth show itself, 

And through the forms of earthly beauties shines 
Obscured, as through a veil. He did reveal 
His face through Joseph’s coat, and so destroyed 
Zuleykha’s peace. Where’er thou seest a veil, 
Beneath that veil He hides. Whatever heart 
Doth yield to love, He charms it. In His love 
The heart hath life. Longing for Him, the soul 
Hath victory. That heart which feigns to love 
The fair ones of this world, loves Him alone. 

Beware ! say not “ He is All-Beautiful, 

And we His lovers.” Thou art but the glass, 

And He the Face 1 confronting it, which casts 
1 “ All things shall perish save His Face.” Koran 
xxviii. 88. 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 59 


Its image on the mirror. He alone 
Is manifest, and thou in truth art hid. 

Pure Love, like Beauty, coming but from Him 

Reveals itself in Thee. If steadfastly 

Thou canst regard, thou wilt at length perceive 

He is the mirror also—He alike 

The Treasure and the Casket. “ I ” and “ Thou ” 

Have here no place, and are but phantasies 

Vain and unreal. Silence ! for this tale 

Is endless, and no eloquence hath power 

To speak of Him. ’Tis best for us to love 

And suffer silently, being as naught. 1 

(II) 

No heart is that which Love ne’er wounded ; they 

Who know not lover’s pangs are soulless clay. 

Turn from the world, O turn thy wandering feet; 

Come to the World of Love and find it sweet! 

Heaven’s giddy round from craze of love was caught, 

From Love’s disputes the world with strife is fraught. 

Love’s slave be thou if thou would fain be free : 

Welcome love’s pangs, and happy shalt thou be. 

Love’s sweet, soft memories youth itself restore ; 

The tale of love gives fame for evermore. 

If Majuun ne’er the cup of love had drained, 

High fame in heaven and earth he ne’er had gained. 

A thousand sages, deep in wisdom’s lore, 

Untaught of Love, died, and are known no more : 

Without a name or trace in death they sank. 

And in the book of time their name is blank. 2 

The following dialogue occurs between Yusuf and 
Zulaikha on meeting after a long separation, during 
which her husband, the Wazir of Egypt, has 
died, and she has become poor and blind. This 

1 Translated by Mr. R. T. H. Browne in A Year Among 
the Persians, pp. 125-7. 

2 Griffith, Yusuf and. Zulaikha, p. 23. 


60 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


“ separation ” of course symbolises the estrange¬ 
ment of the human heart from the Divine 
Love:— 

“ Where are thy youth, and thy beauty, and pride ? ” 

“ Gone, since I parted from thee,” she replied. 

“ Where is the light of thine eyes ? ” said he. 

“ Drowned in blood-tears for the loss of thee.” 

‘‘Why is that cypress-tree 1 bowed and bent ? ” 

“ By absence from thee and my long lament.” 

“ Where are thy pearls and thy silver and gold ? 

And the diadem bright on thy head of old ? ” 

“ They who spoke of my loved one,” she answered, “ shed, 

In the praise of his beauty, rare pearls on my head. 

In return for those jewels, a recompense meet, 

I scattered my jewels and gold at their feet. 

My crown of pure gold on their foreheads I set, 

And the dust that they trod made my coronet. 

I gave till the stream of my treasure ran dry, 

My heart is Love’s storehouse, and I am I.” 2 

Not in the Persian language alone, however, has 
poetical utterance been given to the mystical 
doctrines of the Dervishes. From the first half of 
the fourteenth century onward this language began 
to be abandoned for literary purposes by Ottomans 
in favour of their native Turkish. Though both 
the prose and verse productions in that language, 
previous to the end of the following century, are 
adjudged by critics to be for the most part somewhat 
rude and uncouth, one of the earliest of these 
Turkish writers was of such eminence that he is to 
this day styled the “ Father of Ottoman Literature. 55 

1 The human form is often likened to a cypress by 
Oriental poets, and also by the Greek popular muse. 

2 Griffith, Yusuf and Zulaikha, pp. 293-4. 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 61 


Oriental writers have always affected anonymity, 
and this author wrote under the takhullus, or pen- 
name of A’ashik (“ The Loving ”) to which name, 
according to the custom of those times, was added 
the title of “ Pasha ” to denote his high rank among 
men of letters. Among A’ashik’s numerous pro¬ 
ductions is an “ Ode to Culture ” ; but he was 
chiefly eminent as a mystic, having been a member 
of the Mevlevi Order, and his principal work is a 
long mystical poem known as the “ A’ashik Pasha 
Diwani .” It consists of rhymed couplets, the 
following translated lines from which may give 
some idea of the character and sentiment of the 
Turkish poetry of that period :— 

All the Universe, one mighty sign, is shown ; 

God hath myriads of creative acts unknown : 

None hath seen them, of the races djin 1 and men, 

None hath news brought from that realm far off from ken, 

Never shall thy mind in reason reach that strand, 

Nor can tongue the King’s name utter of that land. 

Since ’tis His each nothingness with life to invest, 

Trouble is there ne’er at His behest. 

Eighteen thousand worlds from end to end 

Do not with Him one atom’s worth transcend. 2 

Khiyali lived in the first half of the sixteenth 
century. He began life as a Kalender of the School 
of Ali Baba, but on coming to the capital he found 
a patron in the Grand Vizier, who introduced him 
to the notice of the Sultan. 

1 The race of beings created, according to Moslem 
tradition, before Adam. 

2 Translated by Mr. Gibb in his Ottoman Poems. 


62 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


GHAZEL 

One with Realms Eternal this my soul to make—what 
wouldest say ? 

All Creation’s empire’s fancies to forsake—what wouldest 
say ? 

Wearing to a hair my frame with bitter sighs and moans, 
in love, 

Nestling in The Fair One’s tresses, to rest take—what 
wouldest say ? 

Yonder goldfaced birds within the quicksilver resplendent 
deep : 

Launching forth the hawk, my striving, these to take— 
what wouldest say ? 

Yonder Nine Smaragdine Bowls of Heaven to quaff at 
one deep draught. 

Yet from all ebriety’s fumes free to break—what wouldest 
say ? 

To an autumn leaf the Sphere hath turned Khiyali’s 
countenance, 

To the Spring of Beauty, that a gift to make—what 
wouldest say ? 1 

Many more examples might be given, did space 
allow, from the mystic poetry of Sheykhi, Lami, 
Yahya Bey, and other later writers. This chapter 
must, however, conclude with a ghazel of Sidql, the 
famous Ottoman poetess of the seventeenth century, 
a prolific writer, whose works are full of Sufi 
mysticism :— 2 

He who union with the Lord gains, more desireth not; 

He who looks on charms of Fair One, other sight desireth 
not; 

Pang of love is lover’s solace, eagerly he seeks therefor, 

Joys he in it; balm or salve for yonder blight desireth 
not. 

1 Gibb, Ottoman Poems. 

2 See my Women of Turkey, Vol. II, Chap. xxiv. 
“ Poetesses of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Ottoman 
Empire.” 


THE METAPHORS OF THE POETS 63 


Paradise he longs’not after, nor doth aught beside regard, 

Bower, or garden, mead, or youth or Huri bright desireth 
not. 

From the hand of Power Unbounded, draweth he the 
wine of life ; 

Aye inebriate with knowledge, learning’s light desireth 
not. 

He who Allah loveth, Lord is of an empire, such that he— 

King of inward mysteries—Suleyman’s might desireth 
not: 

Thou art Sultan of my heart, ay, soul of my soul e’en 
art Thou ; 

Thou art soul enow, and Sidql other plight desireth not. 1 

1 Gibb, Ottoman Poems. 


CHAPTER IV 

MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 

“ If your hearts be oppressed with sorrow, go seek con¬ 
solation at the graves of the holy dead .”—Traditional 
saying of Mohammed. 

The monastic establishments of the Dervish Orders, 
called by the various names of Tekkehs, Khanakahs, 
and Zanriyehs, but more commonly by the first, 
and the Turbehs, or Shrines of their Saints, are, at 
the present day, as numerous in European as in 
Asiatic Turkey. In Constantinople and its environs 
many of the Orders possess several establishments ; 
and every town contains the monastery and shrine 
of one or more of their communities. The Tekkehs 
occupy for the most part picturesque and command¬ 
ing situations, sometimes in the middle of towns or 
cities, but more frequently in their suburbs. Those 
of the Mevlevi and Rufat are perhaps the most 
remarkable. The central edifice of the former is 
the Sent ’a Khaneh (“ The Hall of Celestial Sounds ”), 
where the Brotherhood meet for the performance 
of their religious exercises and public worship. This 
is usually a square building of whitewashed masonry, 
with a domed and red-tiled roof. The interior 
arrangements vary somewhat, but are always 
marked by the utmost simplicity. A circular space 
in the centre is smoothly planked and reserved for 
the performances of the Dervishes. It is divided 


64 


MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


65 


by a low wooden railing from the rest of the floor, 
which is covered with matting and occupied during 
the public services by the male spectators. A 
gallery, supported on wooden pillars, runs round 
three sides of the Tekkeh ; one side of it is occupied 
by the Mutrib, or orchestra, and the other two by 
the women and children, who are concealed from 
view by carved lattices. In some Tekkehs, where 
the gallery is only large enough to accommodate the 
orchestra, a corner of the ground floor is partitioned 
off for the women. The only attempts at decoration 
are tablets on the walls inscribed with texts from 
the Koran, and with the names of Allah, Mohammed, 
Ali, and Hasan and Husein, the grandsons of the 
Prophet. As in the public mosques, the direction 
of Mekka is indicated by a niche in the wall, sur¬ 
mounted by the name of the Pir, or Founder of the 
Order, and sometimes also by the Moslem profession 
of faith— La ilaha il Allah ve Mohammed resold 
Allah (“ There is no god but Allah and Mohammed 
is the Prophet of Allah ”), or the word Bismillah 
(“ In the Name of Allah ”). In a corner of many 
Tekkehs is the shrine of a departed saintly sheikh, 
covered with costly carpets and rich draperies, the 
pious offerings of those who have there sought and 
found healing benefit, or other boon. 

The Tekkehs of the Mevlevi Order contain another 
apartment called the Ismi Jeleeh Hujreh, where the 
Brethren perform their daily namaz and the obliga¬ 
tory zikr, or calling upon the name of Allah, which 
takes place at the hour of the third namaz. The 


66 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


courtyard surrounding the Tekkeh gives access to 
the cells of the monastic Dervishes and their Sheikh. 
These are, in a fully-equipped monastery, eighteen 
in number, and form a quadrangle of low buildings, 
with a roof sloping to the front, and covering a 
broad verandah into which all the doors and windows 
open. Beyond are flower and fruit gardens, shaded 
by cypress, mulberry, and plane trees, the haunts 
of storks and pigeons ; and, enclosed by the arched 
gateway and tile-topped walls, are cisterns and 
fountains of sparkling water furnished with iron 
ladles for the use of the thirsty. Sometimes, as 
within the precincts of the Tekkeh outside the 
Vardar gate of Salonica, there are also cool, shady 
cloisters and raised terraces and kiosks, commanding 
magnificent views of mountain, plain, and sea. 
And here, when the evening shadows are lengthening, 
the mystics, in their picturesque and symbolic 
attire, may be seen pacing tranquilly to and fro ; 
or, seated on the broad wooden benches, medita¬ 
tively passing through their fingers the brown beads 
of their long tesbehs, or rosaries, on their faces 
that expression of perfect repose which indifference 
to the world and its doings alone can give. 

Though all the Dervish Orders, in accordance 
with their principle of Poverty, are considered 
mendicant, few are so in reality, for most Tekkehs 
possess vakouf, or landed property bequeathed to 
them by pious persons. The revenues from these 
endowments are applied chiefly to the support of 
the monastic Dervishes, though the wants of a 


MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


67 


needy lay brother may occasionally be relieved 
from them. The Tekkehs vary greatly in point of 
wealth, and the more prosperous are expected to 
assist others less largely endowed. The Mevlevi 
Order is the most popular, one might even say the 
most fashionable, of all, and has, ever since its 
foundation, included among its members men of 
high rank. The late Sultan Abdul Aziz was, for 
instance, a lay Brother, and occasionally, it is said, 
took part in the religious exercises at one of the 
Mevlevi Tekkehs in Constantinople. This Order is, 
consequently, very prosperous, and its monasteries 
and shrines surpass those of all other Orders. 
The Monastery of its General, at Konieh (Iconium), 
in Asia Minor, possesses considerable lands 
bequeathed as vakouf by the old Seljukian Sultans, 
these bequests being ratified by subsequent princes. 
Murad IV, too, when marching against Persia in 
1634, bestowed many favours and distinctions upon 
the “ Sheikh of Sheikhs,” as their Grand Master is 
termed, and endowed his community as a perpetual 
vakouf with the proceeds of the kharatch, the poll- 
tax imposed on the non-Moslem inhabitants of the 
city in lieu of military service, now abolished. 

Notwithstanding, however, these substantial en¬ 
dowments, the Dervishes have never, like the 
monastic Orders of Christendom, departed from 
the original principles of their founders. Their 
manner of living is still as frugal as was that 
of the original Twelve Orders, and the architec¬ 
ture of their Tekkehs is marked by extreme simplicity 


68 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


both of form and material, any ornamental articles 
they may contain being the gifts of the pious ; while 
their surplus revenues are either given directly to 
the poor in the shape of alms, or employed in the 
foundation of charitable institutions such as 
almshouses, schools, or baths. 

When it happens that a Dervish has been raised 
to the rank of Sheikh by the General of his Order, 
without being appointed to the rule of a special 
Tekkeh , he is directed to take up his abode in some 
town which has been indicated to his Chief, by 
means of a dream or vision, as specially marked out 
for the establishment of a new community. Here 
he remains until the citizens, incited by a pious 
emulation, erect a Tekkeh and provide for its sup¬ 
port. Most of the existing monasteries have sprung 
up in this way ; and the practice, to some extent, 
still continues. 

It is not unusual to find Mevlevi Sheikhs engaged 
in commercial pursuits, necessitated by the nature 
of the source from which their revenues are derived. 
For instance, if the vakouf consists of arable land, 
and is cultivated on the metayer system, the sale 
of the produce devolves on the Sheikh, who generally 
proves himself well able to fulfil the temporal, as 
well as the spiritual, duties of his office. I hap¬ 
pened one day, after witnessing a performance of 
the Mevlevi Dervishes at Salonica, to make a 
remark to the Inspector of Customs on the pre¬ 
possessing appearance and reverend bearing of the 
Sheikh, a handsome man in the prime of life. " Oh,” 



BEGGING DERVISH AND NIGHT-WATCHMAN 






























MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


69 


he replied, laughing, " Ne vous fiez pas a sa bonne 
physionomie ; il n’y a personne qui me donne plus 
d’embarras dans les affaires.” But even St. 
Theresa, it appears, was a very good business 
woman. 1 

The great founder of this Order, to judge from the 
following anecdote, also knew how to turn his 
position to account for the advantage of his 
community :— 

“ Whenever the grandees of Konieh entertained 
a desire to have an audience of the Sheikh Shemsu 
’d-DIn of Tebriz, they would request Husam (Jelal’s 
secretary) to procure it for them through the 
influence of his master with the Sheikh. Jelal and 
Husam used to tax those nobles for this favour 
according to their means and circumstances. On 
one occasion the Grand Vizier solicited an audience, 
and was taxed at forty thousand pieces of silver ; 
which sum, after much chaffering, was reduced to 
thirty thousand. At his audience with Shems, the 
Vizier was so charmed with the mysteries revealed to 
him that, on his return therefrom, he voluntarily 
sent to Hus&m the ten thousand pieces of silver 
which had been abated from the sum originally 
fixed. These moneys were always expended by 
Husam as he saw fit, in relieving the necessities of 
the holy community, and the families of Jelal, the 
gold-beater (Hus5m),and their various dependents.” 2 

1 See Mrs. Cunningham Graham’s Life of St. Theresa, 
1S94. 

2 The Acts of the Adepts. Sir W. Redhouse’s Translation. 

6 —(2119) 


70 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


The Tekkehs of the Bektashls are unostentatious 
groups of buildings, consisting of cells for the 
brethren and a plain square hall for their common 
devotions. In the centre of the floor is a large 
dodecangular stone called the Maidan Task, on 
which, during all their ceremonies except that of 
initiation, stands a lighted candle. Around this 
are twelve ftostakis, or sheepskin mats, significative 
of the twelve Imams; the one nearest to a niche in 
the wall which denotes the Kibleh, or direction of 
Mekka, being the seat of the Sheikh, and the others 
those of the eleven elders. The apartment reserved 
for the Sheikh is called the “ cell of the master.” 
He, however, unless under a vow of celibacy, seldom 
occupies it permanently, but resides with his family ; 
and the rule of the convent in his absence devolves 
upon a deputy Sheikh, the senior of the celibates. 
Those of the Orders who for various reasons 
are, like the Hamzavis, under the ban of the ruling 
powers, assemble in buildings undistinguishable 
externally from ordinary dwelling-houses. 

The tombs of the Evliya, as Moslem saints are 
called, are held in religious veneration in all Moham¬ 
medan countries, and are honoured by the erection 
over them of Turbihs, or mausoleums. A Turbeh 
is usually a square edifice with a domed roof built 
over a sarcophagus of stone or brickwork, higher at 
the head than at the foot and rising in the centre 
to a ridge. To some Turbehs are attached apart¬ 
ments in which reside the Dervishes who have 
charge of them. The walls of these shrines have 


MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


71 


grated openings through which can be seen the 
tomb, often covered with rich shawls and carpets, 
the pious offerings of recipients of benefits believed 
to have been bestowed through the mediation 
of the Saint buried there. On the gratings flutter 
innumerable little coloured rags, portions of the 
clothing of rich persons who hope by this means 
to transfer their diseases to the Saint, or who leave 
them as votive tabellce to remind him of the blessings 
hoped for through his mediation with Allah. In a 
niche in the masonry of the sarcophagus a small lamp, 
fed with sweet oil, is kept continually burning. 
These lamps symbolise the nut, or holy light, which, 
it is said, is frequently seen to hover over the grave 
of a Saint, and has made known the resting-place 
of many holy Dervishes who have died while on 
journeys or pilgrimages. 

Among the famous Sheikhs who held the post 
of guardian of a shrine was the Pir, Abdul Kadr 
Ghilani, the founder of the Kadiri Order. 1 He had 
charge of the tomb of the celebrated Imam, Abu 
Khanife, at Bagdad, where he also was buried. 
And round the Turbeh of Abdul Kadr (“ The Rose 
of Bagdad”) are grouped in such numbers the 
domes that cover the mortal remains of the most 
renowned mystics of the East that the locality is 
known to the present day as “ The Grove of the 
Saints.” 

The Turbth at Broussa of the famous Dervish, 
Emir Sultan, 2 is thus described by Evliya Effendi, 

1 See p. 18. 2 See p. 33. 


72 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


who visited it towards the end of the seventeenth 
century. 1 • • 

“ He is buried without Broussa to the east, 
beneath a lofty dome. The gates of the Turbeh 
are inlaid with silver, as also is the entrance, at 
which the visitor descends six steps. The walls 
are covered with variegated porcelain tiles. Four 
of the windows look westwards towards the plain 
of Broussa, and four towards the Kibleh (Mekka) 
into the yard of the Turbeh. The great number of 
suspended ornaments which adorn the interior of 
the mausoleum are equalled only in the Turbehs of 
Medina ; the silken carpets are richer than are found 
anywhere else. The sarcophagus is surrounded by 
gold and silver lamps, candlesticks, and vases for 
holding perfumes and rosewater ; on the richly- 
embroidered silken draperies which cover it lie 
Korans writ by the hands of famous scribes ; 2 and 
at the head a large turban stands majestically. 
Those who enter are struck with such awe that 
many do not dare to attempt it, but only look into 
it by a window at the head, and recite a Fatiha .” 3 

1 Narrative of Travels. 

2 Though printing was introduced into Turkey more 
than a century and a half ago, a beautiful manuscript is 
at the present day preferred to a printed book, and many 
beautifully written and illuminated copies of the Koran 
are to be found in the country, as a prejudice still exists 
against printing the Sacred Book. 

3 The first chapter of the Koran, the Moslem Paternoster. 
“ Mohammedans look upon the Fatiha as the quintessence 
of the whole Koran, and often repeat it in their devotions 
both public and private.” Sale, Al Koran, p. 1, note. 


MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


73 


A village called BektSshkeui, near Angora, 
contains the tomb of Hadji Bektash, the founder of 
the Bektashi Order. It stands in a commanding 
position overlooking the city, under the dome of 
a Turbeh, and close by is a Tekkeh occupied by a 
small community of Bektashi Dervishes. This 
shrine is naturally much venerated, and visited by 
pilgrims from all parts of the Empire. The front 
of the Tekkeh is embellished with a portico or 
verandah, supported on pillars of marble, and on 
the side of a well in the court visitors are shown 
indentations said to have been made by the teeth 
of the Saint, and in the doorway the impression of 
his hand. In the vicinity are salt mines which, 
tradition says, were miraculously created by 
Hadji Bektash, who, when passing through the 
village, had found the inhabitants suffering from 
a scarcity of that commodity. This village 
now bears the name of Touzkeui, the “ Salt 
Village.” 

At Merdevenkeui, a village not far from the 
Asiatic suburb of Kadikeui, is the Turbeh of an 
eminent Bektashi saint, once a Chaoush, or messenger 
in the service of Sultan Achmet, which is much 
frequented by pious Moslems. Close by is a large 
stone said to possess the power of granting the wish 
of any person standing upon it. A Turkish lady of 
my acquaintance, the late Besmi Sultana, attributed 
her elevation to the high and exceptional position 
of legal wife of Sultan Abdul Medjid to the wish 
she mentally expressed when standing on this 


74 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


stone, after, of course, depositing her devotional 
offering on the neighbouring shrine of the 
Evliya. 

Many Turbehs, however, consist merely of four 
roofless walls, pierced with grated openings, built 
round the sarcophagus. Some are to be found in 
the crowded thoroughfares of towns and cities, 
some by country roadsides, while others occupy 
corners of the public burial grounds. At Salonica, 
one is situated at the entrance to the bazaar, and 
another curiously located in the cellar basement of 
a Jewish merchant’s warehouse, the tomb being 
visible from the street through a grated opening 
close to the ground. The cost of the lights always 
kept burning in these humbler shrines is defrayed 
either by some pious bequest, or by the offerings of 
the passers-by. 

It is customary for a visitor, or pilgrim, on arriving 
at a turbeh, to greet its saintly occupant as he would 
a living person with the beautiful Oriental saluta¬ 
tion, “ Peace be with you ” (Salaam aleikum). He 
then recites a Fatiha 1 before the entrance, and, 
walking round the grave from left to right, repeats 
it at each of the four sides. Sometimes a longer 
sura of the Koran is used, or, perhaps, as in the case 
of a devout Dervish on his pilgrimage, the whole of 
the Sacred Book. The recitation concludes with 
this collect, apparently addressed to the Saint : 
“ Extol the perfection of thy Lord, the Lord of 
might, exempting Him from that which they 

1 See above, p. 72. 


MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


75 


[Christians] ascribe to Him ” [i.e. having a partaker 
of his Godhead]. 

These arts of devotion are generally performed 
for the sake of the Saint, though the merit of them 
is also believed to reflect at the same time upon 
the pilgrim who makes the recitation, and adds the 
words “ Peace be upon the Apostles and praise be 
to Allah, the Lord of all creatures. O Allah ! I have 
transferred the merit of what I have recited from 
the excellent Koran to the soul of this Saint.” When 
prayers are offered for some special blessing—which 
usually, if not for health or deliverance from some 
impending calamity, is of a purely worldly nature, 
such as the furtherance of some ambitious project, 
or the favour of the Sultan, or some other dignitary 
whose influence is required—the following, or some 
similar formula, is used : “ 0 Allah ! I conjure Thee 
by the Prophet, and by him to whom this place is 
dedicated, to grant me,” etc. The hands of the 
suppliant are held upwards and open during the 
prayer, and, at its conclusion, passed over the 
face. Some fervent pilgrims, like Evliya Effendi, 
kiss the threshold, others the walls, windows, and 
grave-coverings of the holy shrines. 

The prayers of the guardians of Turbehs are also 
often solicited by those in need of spiritual consolation 
and assistance. These watchers of the holy dead 
are often Sheikhs who have abandoned the world 
for this purpose, and whose lives of undoubted purity 
exalt them to the position of intermediaries between 
the Saint and ordinary sinful men. They have 


76 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


often one or more disciples to assist them in their 
pious duties, who in due time succeed their 
spiritual guide in his office. The revenues are 
derived chiefly from the offerings of pilgrims, but 
in some cases iurbehs, like tekkehs, are endowed with 
landed property. 

The tombs of Christian saints, strange to say, 
come in for their share of the general hagiolatry, 
though, as the Christians also patronise Moslem 
saints, this is but a quid pro quo. The beautiful 
basilica of St. Dimitri at Salonica, built in the fifth 
century over the miracle-working tomb of that 
Saint, was, in 1180, for the second time, converted 
into a mosque. On the removal of the ‘A y(a Tpaire^a 
—the Holy Table of the Greek Church—the relics 
which had had their resting-place beneath it were 
reverently removed to a cell at the north-west corner 
of the narthex. The Greeks and other Christians are 
now allowed to visit this shrine freely ; and the old 
Mevlevi Dervish, who acts as caretaker of the mosque, 
appears to have no less faith in the miraculous 
powers of St. Dimitri than have the numerous 
members of the Orthodox Church who make pilgrim¬ 
ages to his shrine. One of my visits to this ancient 
Metropolitan Church was paid in company with a 
Greek matron who, having been educated in Ger¬ 
many and France, was a thorough sceptic in such 
matters. Seeing that we were strangers, the 
Dervish enumerated in his broken Greek the virtues 
and antiquity of the Saint. He then fumbled 
under the tombstone and produced a handful of 


MONASTERIES AND SHRINES 


77 


earth and what looked like a long mesh of cotton 
candle wick. Having ascertained from my friend 
her name, and the names of her husband, father- 
in-law, and children, the old man slowly repeated 
them, tying at each name a knot in the cotton 
over the flame of the candle burning on the tomb, 
and then presented her with this girdle with the 
assurance that, if worn on the person it would 
relieve her or them of any of the ills to which the 
flesh is heir. I was also the fortunate recipient of 
a small quantity of greasy earth, from which I was 
promised similar benefits. 1 

1 An odoriferous unguent (fiJpov) is said to exude 
from the bones of certain saints who from this circumstance 
are called fivpoB\vrai. St. Nicholas is one of these 
myroblites. Sir John Maunderville, speaking of the relics 
of St. Catharine, on Mount Sinai, says, “ The prelate of the 
Monkes schewethe the Relykes to the Pilgrymes. And 
with an Instrument of Sylver, he frotethe the Bones : and 
thanne ther gothe out a lytylle Oyle, as thoughe it were in 
a maner swetynge, that is nouther like to Oyle ne to 
Bawme ; but it is fulle swete of smelle.” (Quoted by 
Mr. Athelstan Riley in Mount Athos, p. 127 n.) 


CHAPTER V 

MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 

" Who Poverty’s low door to enter e’er has sought, 

Aye to his death beneath its roof remains, 

Lays greed aside, and, as a monarch reigns ; 

For proud the station is of him who needeth naught.” 

A Dervish Tekkeh, or convent, usually contains 
from fifteen to thirty disciples, ruled over by a 
Sheikh. The Sheikh has unlimited power and 
authority in the Tekkeh. If it is endowed with 
vakouf property, he sells the produce of the farms, 
regulates the expenditure of the Tekkeh , and dis¬ 
tributes its alms. If his convent is unendowed, he 
looks for its support to the pious and charitable— 
the “ Friends of Allah.” For, occupied as he is 
supposed continually to be with spiritual matters, 
a Sheikh cannot, like his disciples, follow a worldly 
avocation, but must live—according to the Dervish 
expression—“ on the Doorstep of Allah.” The dis¬ 
ciples are also expected to contribute to his support 
and to the other expenses of the Tekkeh ; and it is 
usual for them to bring some small present every 
time they visit him. As every detail of convent 
life is symbolical, this custom is said to commemo¬ 
rate the offerings brought by Gabriel to Adam, after 
his expulsion from Paradise, and which, the legend 
says, consisted of a kind of small loaves and corn, 

78 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 79 


with parrots and turtle doves for his entertainment, 
and swallows and hens for that of Eve. 1 

Each Order has its Chief Sheikh, or General, who 
resides in the city or town which contains the 
tomb of its founder {Pir), and is considered the 
guardian of the sacred relics. Bagdad, as mentioned 
in the preceding chapter, is the burial place of 
Abdul Kadr GhilanI, the founder of the Kadiri 
Order, and his eminence in the Dervish world 
caused many succeeding Pirs to choose their place of 
sepulture in the neighbourhood of his tomb. This 
city is, consequently, a great centre of Dervish 
Generals. Konieh (Iconium), in Asia Minor, is the 
seat of the Mevlevi General, the successor and lineal 
descendant of the talented Jelalu-’d-DIn. For the 
dignity of Sheikh is hereditary in the Mevlevi, 
Bektashi, and Kadiri Orders. If the son be a minor 
at the death of his father, one of the elders is elected 
to act as his deputy (Naib Khalifeh ) until he reaches 
the age of twenty. In the other Orders a council of 
Sheikhs, presided over by the General, choose 
a new Prior from among the disciples of the deceased 
Mur skid, who do not appear to have any voice 
in the matter. Their choice falls, as a rule, on 
the elder who has so distinguished himself by his 

1 The Mohammedan legend says that the swallows were 
the means of reconciliation between Adam and Eve after 
their expulsion from Paradise when they had gone different 
ways. They found out Adam in Ceylon, and brought a 
hair of his beard to Eve who was at Jedda, returning with 
one of her hairs to Adam ; and the pair met on Mount 
Arafat, near Mekka. 


80 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


spiritual advancement as to have previously held 
the post of Deputy Sheikh ; or, if such a functionary 
is not to be found in the convent, on one of the 
elders, generally the senior. The nomination is 
then notified to the Sheikh-ul-Islam, or Grand Mufti, 
from whose hands a new Prior must receive his 
investiture, even when he succeeds to the rule of 
a convent by right of heredity. This is, however, 
merely a matter of form, being a nominal acknow¬ 
ledgment of the Sheikh-ul-Islam as the spiritual 
head (under the Sultan) of the Mohammedan 
world ; for custom and prejudice have rendered 
it almost impossible for that dignitary to refuse 
to invest a Sheikh chosen by the Dervish primates. 
According to the rules of a few Orders, a Prior 
is free to leave his mantle of succession at his death 
to the disciple whom he may deem most worthy of 
it; and in those Orders in which the office is 
hereditary in the family of its founder, if the Sheikh 
leave no son or immediate heir, the heads of several 
convents of the same Order meet and choose a 
successor ; or the members of his community elect 
one of their own number, generally the senior, to 
the vacant office. Such a choice is not, however, 
made without much deliberation, fasting, and prayer 
for divine guidance ; and, consequently, there is no 
unseemly rivalry among the brethren, for the result 
of their prayers and deliberations is looked upon as 
the revelation of the will of Allah, and their choice, 
made with such solemnity, is consequently ratified 
by the Grand Mufti without demur. 



AN ELDER OF THE MEVLEVI ORDER 









MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 81 


Many of the Dervish Sheikhs are Seyyids, or 
lineal descendants of the family of the Prophet, 
through the grandsons of his nephew and son-in-law, 
the Khalif Ali, who escaped the massacre in which 
their fathers, Hasan and Husam—“ The Martyrs ”— 
lost their lives. Seyyids are distinguished by 
their green turbans, and enjoy peculiar privi¬ 
leges. They are not under the same jurisdiction as 
ordinary Mussulmans, but are ruled by a func¬ 
tionary called the Nakeb-el-Eshref, who resides 
at Constantinople. Everyone claiming to be a 
descendant of the Prophet is required to possess a 
document establishing his genealogy. 

If a Sheikh is a celibate, he resides in the convent, 
where a special apartment called the “ cell of the 
Master ” is reserved for his use. Many of the heads 
of convents, however, are married, though it is 
considered necessary for them to receive, in a vision, 
a’spiritual dispensation before taking to themselves 
wives ; and such Priors appoint deputies to rule 
over the monastic brethren in the convents during 
their absence. Like most Ottomans of the present 
day they are, as a rule, monogamists, but not always, 
nor are their wives always saintly women. 
Some years ago I paid a visit to the harem of the 
Mevlevi Prior of Magnesia (ad Sipylwri), in 
Asia Minor, who ranks next in the Order to the 
General at Konieh. He had two wives. The Bash 
Kadin, or first wife, to whom he had been married 
some years, but who was childless, was dark-haired 
and handsome, but with a rather haughty and 


82 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


ill-tempered expression, increased, perhaps, by the 
thick eyebrows painted to meet over the nose. 
The second wife, not long a bride, was of the fair 
Circassian type, brown-haired and blue-eyed, and 
evidently a little in awe of her imperious-looking 
companion. We were also courteously received 
in the selamlik by the Sheikh, a handsome man in 
the prime of life whose dignified presence was 
enhanced by his flowing mantle of light fawn- 
coloured cloth and his tall Dervish hat. One of 
his neophytes, a fine youth of seventeen or there¬ 
abouts, was, as we took our leave, commissioned by 
his Murshid to show us some of the sights of the 
town. Magnesia being built on the lower slopes 
of Mount Sipylus, its upper streets are so steep that 
they are terraced into staircases. As we toiled 
upwards, the young Dervish, who was kindly carry¬ 
ing a little girl belonging to our party, was asked 
by a group of children whom we passed, “ Are you 
not ashamed to be going about with Giaours ? ” 
The neophyte made no reply, but turned again with 
an apologetic smile to continue his conversation 
with the mother of the little girl. Had this mere 
boy already learned the main precept of his Order, 
which may be summed up in the one word— 
Love ? 

The domestic peace of another married Sheikh 
at Adrianople was much disturbed by the unruly 
temper of his wife. The garden of his house adj oined 
that of an English lady, who, though she main¬ 
tained friendly relations with the holy man, was 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 83 


very often disturbed by the cries of his passionate 
and ill-tempered spouse. Nor could the good 
man make use of his privilege of divorce to rid 
himself of his uncongenial helpmeet, as he was 
not in a position to pay the sum promised in the 
marriage contract ( nekyah ) in case of such a 
contingency. 

Early one morning my friend was disturbed by 
cries of “ Fire ” (Yangen var /) proceeding from- the 
Sheikh’s abode. Snatching up a can of water, she 
hastened downstairs, and, followed by her servants 
with pails, entered her neighbour’s premises through 
a gate in the garden wall. No indications of a 
conflagration were, however, visible. But in front 
of the house stood the Dervish with his ebony arm¬ 
rest in his hand, while on the ground sat his wife, 
sobbing hysterically ; and it was only too evident 
that the holy man’s patience had been at last tried 
beyond further endurance, and that he had 
administered the correction that had been only too 
long deserved. 

To arrive at the degree of spirituality required 
in those who fill the office of Deputy Prior, a 
Dervish must have spent much time in prayer, 
fasting, and complete abstraction from all worldly 
pursuits. Besides being far advanced on the 
spiritual path, and familiar with all the mystical 
dogmas and tenets of the Order, he must possess 
the respect, reverence, and entire submission of the 
rest of the community. By constant prayer and the 
continued performance of the Zikr, his breath, and 


84 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


even his touch, should have acquired a sanctifying and 
healing influence, and he must also be believed to 
possess the power of working miracles. He will 
be favoured with visions, and by their import his 
superior is able to judge when his spiritual training 
may be considered complete, when he terminates 
the period of his seclusion. He will then 
commence his pilgrimage to the holy cities and 
the tombs of the saints, and, perhaps, may proceed 
as far as Bagdad, if the founder of his Order be 
among the many saints buried there, when it will 
also be his duty to visit the burial place of the 
grandsons of the Prophet at Kerbeleh, in the vicinity 
of that city. 

Each of the twelve members of a Bektashi fra¬ 
ternity has some special office attached to his postaki 
(sheepskin seat). Some of these would appear to 
entail a certain amount of manual labour, while 
others have merely nominal, or at most only 
occasional, duties. They are as follows :— 

1. The Sheikh. 8. The Bagbearer. 

2. The Cook. 9. The Sacrificer. 

3. The Baker. 10. The attendant of the 

4. The Deputy Shekh. Tekkeh. 

5. The Superintendent. 11. The Groom. 1 

6. The Steward. 12. The attendant on the 

7. The Coffee-maker. guests. 

1 Commemorative of Kamber, the groom of the Khalif 
Ali. 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 85 


The other Orders appear to have officers more or 
less similar to these attached to the service of the 
convent. 

Though all Dervishes are free to leave the Order 
into which they have originally entered and join 
another, or even to return to the world, it is very 
rare that any use is made of the liberty. Each 
member seems to regard it as a sacred duty to remain 
faithful for life to the Order that first received him, 
and in its dress to end his days. To this spirit of 
devotion they add that of perfect submission to 
the will of their Prior. “ Consider your guide 
( Murshid ) as the greatest of all guides,” and “ What¬ 
ever you do or think, let your Sheikh be always 
present to your mind,” are two primary obligations 
expressed by a formula called the rabouta, which is 
repeated by them as scrupulously as is the namaz by 
the orthodox Mohammedans. Humility of spirit 
and demeanour are required from all; they are 
taught not to consider themselves superior to others, 
but to rank themselves as the poorest, lowest, and 
most humble of mankind. Hence, not only in the 
cloister, but in all their dealings with the outer 
world, these mystics are distinguished by the deep 
humility of their manner. Their heads are ever 
bent, their gaze absorbed ; and the words Ay b’ 
Allah (Thanks to God) are ever upon their lips. They 
must not divulge the secrets of the Order to their 
wives or relatives, nor to anyone who is not, like 
them, a “ seeker after the Truth.” 

Special forms of salutation are used by the 

7—(2119) 


86 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Dervishes. As the Love of God is the principal of 
the Mevlevis, their salutation is “ Let it be Love ! ” 
( Eshk olsoun) ; but that in general use among the 
Orders is “ Ya Hoo ! ” (O Him). After the reception 
of a Dervish into an Order the only salutation 
required of him on entering the Tekkeh is to incline 
his head gently towards the Sheikh, and lay the 
right hand across the breast near the neck, in token 
of perfect submission to him. It is said that 
brethren not in costume recognise each other in 
public by placing the right hand, as if accidentally, 
on the chin. It is also customary for Dervishes 
when entering the Tekkeh or on meeting each other, 
to place the right hand on the heart, and, gently 
inclining the body, to exclaim “ Yd Hoo, Evens!” 
(0 Him, Brethren), the reply to which is “Ay Vallah, 
Shahim (Good, by Allah, my Shah). On making an 
enquiry concerning the health, they say, “ Health, 
my Joys ! ” and the reply is “ Good, by Allah, my 
brother.” Their other salutations on meeting and 
taking leave are Hoo , dost Erenler (Him, dear friend), 
and Aye Vallah Hoo dost. Towards those who are 
not Dervishes they, however, use the ordinary 
beautiful Mohammedan greeting, Salaam aleikoum 
(Peace be to thee). 

There are special prayers and formulas for every 
event and detail of convent life. Those of the 
Bektashis are seventy-six in number, and are called 
by the symbolical name of “ Interpreters.” On 
crossing the doorsill of the Tekkeh, they say :— 

“ I have placed my head and my heart on the 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 87 

sill of the door of repentance, so that my body may 
be pure as gold. Deign, O Sheikh, to turn your 
eyes for an instant on this poor man (,faqir ).” 

On presenting an offering to his superior, the 
disciple says :— 

“ The ant brought as an offering to Solomon the 
thigh of a grasshopper. Thou, O Sheikh, art 
Solomon, and I am thy ant; accept my humble 
offering.” 

On asking for hospitality at a Tekkeh, or Turbeh, 
the traveller says :— 

“ Allah is our Friend ! Peace to the dwellers in 
this Tekkeh. Love to those who are joyful, and to 
all the poor men (fouqara) now present; to the Pirs 
and to the Sheikhs ; to the dwellers in this house of 
the Shah (Ali).” 

The grace before meals of the Bektashis differs 
from that used by the Kadiris and the generality of 
the Orders. It runs thus :— 

“ O Allah ! O Allah ! By the horn of the arch¬ 
angel Israfeel ! by the symbolism of Kamber ! by 
the light of the Prophet! by the altar and the pulpit! 
by our sovereign Pir, Hadji Bektash Vali ! by our 
General! by the breath (nefs) of the Three, the Five, ' 
the Seven, and the Forty True Saints, we thank 
Thee. Hoo ! ” 

The following is the grace used by the Kadiris. 
That of the other Orders differs from it only in the 
name of the founder :— 

“ Praise be to Allah! May He increase His 
bounties. By the blessings of Abraham ! By the 


88 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Light of the Prophet! By the grace of Ali ! By the 
war cry of Mohammed ! By the secret of Abdul 
Kadr Ghilani, we beseech Thee to be gracious to 
our Lord (the Pir ).” It is a rule of the Order of 
the Hamzavis, obligatory on all members, to retain 
in their minds during their meals, both when with 
others as well as when alone, a continual remem¬ 
brance of God ; and after they have eaten, to offer 
devout thanks. 

Notwithstanding that all the Orders are nominally 
mendicant, and dependent for subsistence on the 
offerings of the pious, begging is strictly forbidden, 
save among the Bektashis and wandering Dervishes. 
These, who deem it meritorious to live upon alms, 
frequent the bazaars and public streets for the 
purpose of recommending themselves to the charity 
of passers-by. Their formula of request is generally 
“ Something, for the love of Allah.” Many Bek¬ 
tashis, however, make it a rule to support themselves 
by handicraft trades, and particularly by making, 
in imitation of their Pir, Hadji Bektash, small 
articles of wood, such as spoons, ladles, bowls, and 
graters. They also carve out of pieces of marble the 
fastenings used by Dervishes of that order for their 
belts and for the collars of their garments, and fash¬ 
ion the two-beaked bowls (keshgool) used by the men¬ 
dicants when soliciting alms. The monastic brethren 
belonging to the other and endowed Orders are 
supplied only with food and lodging at the expense 
of the Tekkeh. Their meals, which are very simple, 
and consist, as a rule, of two dishes only, are usually 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 89 


eaten in the solitude of the cells ; but on certain 
occasions the brethren dine together in the common 
room. Each Dervish is required to provide himself 
with dress and other necessaries, and, though living 
in the convent, follows some trade or profession. 
Those who are good calligraphists find employment 
in copying the Koran and other religious books. 
If any are without resources, they seldom fail to 
receive contributions either from their relations, 
an allowance from the Prior, or a pension from 
some wealthy individual. For although, as above 
remarked, the members of the majority of the Order 
are forbidden to ask for alms, they are allowed to 
accept gifts when offered by charitable persons “ for 
the love of Allah.” The rule against begging appears 
also to be relaxed in the case of Dervishes on their 
pilgrimage, as they are then usually without their 
ordinary means of support. Many Mohammedans 
reserve their alms exclusively for the Dervishes, and 
make it their duty to seek out those of high reputation 
for sanctity, visit them frequently, and supply 
their wants. Others, again, even lodge and board 
holy men in their houses, in the hope of thus drawing 
upon themselves, their families, and their fortunes 
the blessings of heaven. 

All married Dervishes reside with their families, 
but sleep in the convent once or twice a week on the 
nights preceding their religious exercises. No 
married Dervish is, however, allowed to pass the 
night in the Tekkeh of the Mevlevi General at Konieh. 
The lay brethren, after passing their novitiate in 


90 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


the Tekkeh, return to their ordinary avocations ; 
withdrawing, however, as much as possible from all 
intercourse with the world, and endeavouring to 
lead spiritual and holy lives. 

Various forms of punishment and penance are 
imposed on erring Dervishes by their Sheikh accord¬ 
ing to the gravity of the offence. Evliya Effendi 
says that when a disciple has committed any fault 
or breach of discipline, he is judged by a council 
composed of the Prior and the elders, and sentenced 
to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three days, 
as a longer period of incarceration might be detri¬ 
mental to his family and worldly affairs. The 
council are, however, careful to examine well into 
any accusation, and not to punish the defaulter too 
severely. In former times the bastinado was 
inflicted by the Sheikh on his erring disciples. He 
was, however, required, when striking, never to lift 
the stick higher than his ear, to do which was 
reckoned “ mere injustice and passionate behaviour.” 
Another punishment was that of carrying a heavy 
stone suspended round the neck, a custom which is 
said to have originated with Moses. 1 It is a sin for 
a Dervish to speak a word which is contrary to the 
four “ gates,” or principles of Justice, Truth, Order, 
and Knowledge. One who speaks useless or pur¬ 
poseless words is said to have strayed from the 
Path ( Tariq ). This general habit of reticence is 
variously illustrated in Dervish writings. “ A 
Dervish, when asked by one of his brethren what 
1 See p. 115. 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 91 


marvellous gift he had brought back with him 
from the garden of delights he had visited in his 
ecstatic trance, replied : ‘ I intended, on arriving 
at the Rosebush (the presence of Allah) to fill the 
skirt of my robe with roses, in order to offer them 
to my brethren on my return. But when I arrived 
at the Rosebush, its odour so intoxicated my senses 
that the hem of my robe escaped from my grasp.’ 
Silent is the tongue of the man who has known Allah.” 1 

It is also related of Jelalu-’d-Din that when one 
day on a visit to a fellow Sheikh of great repute, he 
was asked by a Dervish who happened to be present, 
“What is Poverty?” Jelal returned no answer, 
and the question was thrice repeated. When the 
poet left, the Sheikh, after accompanying him to 
the door, returned to the Dervish and severely 
reprimanded him for his insolent intrusion on his 
distinguished guest, which, he said, “ was the more 
inexcusable as he (Jelal) fully answered thy question 
the first time thou didst put it.” The Dervish, 
surprised, asked what the answer had been. “ A 
poor man ( faqir ),” replied the Prior, “ is one who, 
having known Allah, hath his tongue tied.” 2 

Many Dervishes voluntarily practise a most rigid 
abstinence. Those of the Khalveti Order occasion¬ 
ally perform a painful fast of forty days’ duration, 
living during that period on bread and water alone. 
As mentioned in a preceding chapter, the word 
Khalvet signifies “ retirement,” and the Sheikh of 
that name who founded this Order practised it to 

1 The Mesvevi. 2 Ibid. 


92 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


a great extent. 1 Devout Dervishes in all the 
Orders condemn themselves to the performance of 
acts of the utmost austerity, and remain for a long 
time shut up in their cells for the purposes of prayer 
and meditation. Certain nights being considered 
peculiarly holy as anniversaries of some event 
in the life of the Prophet, 2 these are specially 
consecrated to penitence and prayer. In order to 
drive away sleep, some will stand for whole nights 
in constrained attitudes; others, in order to maintain 
themselves in a sitting posture, tie their hair to a 
cord hanging from the ceiling, a practice called 
chilleh; others again fasten their limbs together 
with a leather strap passed round their necks and 
holding the knees up to the chin. 

If a Dervish, when on his pilgrimage to the holy 
places, neglects or fails to perform any of the pre¬ 
scribed rites and ceremonies attached to that 
sacred duty, he atones for it by a sacrifice. On the 
same principle, a Dervish who finds himself guilty 
under other circumstances of a sin of omission or 
commission, brands himself with a hot iron in order 
to avoid the punishment of purgatorial fires in the 
next world. According to Evliya Effendi, “ those 

1 See above, p. 18. 

2 For instance, the anniversary of the Prophet’s birth ; 
the 27th night of Ramazan, called the “ Night of Power,” 
at one moment of which, according to popular belief, all 
inanimate things—trees, plants and mountains—bow them¬ 
selves in adoration of Allah, and all waters taste sweet ; 
and the “ Excellent Night,” the 10th of the month of 
Shaban when the Recording Angels deliver up their books 
to the Almighty, and commence new ones. 


MONASTIC RULE AND DISCIPLINE 93 


who have a hundred and one scars on their heads 
proclaim that they have tried a hundred and one 
spiritual paths, and have abandoned everything 
connected with the world ; those who wear on their 
foreheads the ‘ scar of resignation ’ signify by it 
that they cherish in their hearts no desire but 
Allah ; those who brand their ears, that they have 
renounced their own wills and live only to fulfil 
that of Allah.” 

Every convent, and every shrine at which a 
Dervish resides, has one or more guest-chambers 
which are at the disposal of travelling Dervishes of 
any Order, and in which, especially if no other place 
of refuge is at hand, other Mussulmans on their 
pilgrimage are made welcome. It is the special duty 
of one of the brethren to attend upon the guests, 
bring them food from the common kitchen, and per¬ 
form the other little rites of Oriental hospitality, 
such as making their coffee and preparing their 
chibouks for smoking. If the guest be a Sheikh, 
he is received in the apartment of the Superior of 
the convent, and otherwise treated with special 
consideration. 

The funeral of a Dervish Sheikh of high repute 
is a most impressive and interesting ceremony. 
Besides his own congregation, the members of other 
Orders in the neighbourhood, together with a large 
concourse of the male population, assemble at the 
Tekkeh to follow the departed to his last resting- 
place. After the usual burial service, called the 
mihit namaz, has been performed in the monastery, 


94 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


four or more of the disciples of the deceased Sheikh 
take up on their shoulders the rude coffin, which is 
covered with shawls, and bears at the head his turban. 
The bereaved fraternity proceed slowly towards the 
cemetery, uttering at intervals the exclamation, 
“ Allah ! Allah ! ” Behind follows the long and 
irregular procession, winding along the narrow 
streets. In the Turkish quarter the women peep 
through their latticed blinds with reverent curiosity, 
and in the Christian mahallahs lean out of their 
open windows to watch its progress. There are 
Mevlevi Dervishes in tall hats and flowing mantles ; 
Bektashis in close round caps and black robes ; 
orthodox Imams in their ample white turbans; and 
townspeople of every creed in multicoloured gar¬ 
ments, with here and there a soldier or official in 
tasselled fez, all pacing with bowed heads and 
sedate looks. If a mosque or Tekkeh is passed 
on the route, the coffin is deposited in front of the 
gateway and a service chanted, the whole assembly 
solemnly joining in the refrain of Amin ! Amin ! 
A fresh relay of bearers then raises the coffin, and 
the solemn procession moves on. 


CHAPTER VI 

THE STAGES OF INITIATION 

“ And he who hopes to scale the heights 
Without enduring pain, 

And toil, and strife, but wastes his life 
In idle quest and vain.” 

The founder of one of the earliest Orders of 
Dervishes, Sheikh Olwan, laid down certain rules to 
be observed in the admission of new members into 
his Brotherhood ; and these rules, though subse¬ 
quently elaborated by certain of the Orders, are 
still substantially the same in their leading features, 
differing only in the severity of the discipline 
imposed upon a candidate, in the length of his 
period of probation, and in certain minor details. 

As a general rule, a neophyte is required during his 
novitiate to live in complete retirement from the 
world, to perform the menial offices of the Tekkeh, 
and to repeat daily 101, 151, or 301 times one of 
the attributes of the Deity. These are ninety-seven 
in number, and are called the Isami Ilahi, or “ Beau¬ 
tiful Names of Allah.” Seven only of these are used 
by a Murid ; they are La ilaha il Allah (“ There is 
no God but Allah ”); Yd Allah (“ 0 God ”); Yd 
Hoo (“ O Him ”); Yd Hakk (“ O Truth ”); Yd 
Hay (“ 0 Ever Living ”); Yd Kayyoum (“ 0 Self- 
existent ”); and Yd Kahhar (“ O Almighty ”). 
In the first stage of his probation the neophyte 
repeats only the first attribute, and his advancement 

95 


96 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


through the seven successive stages depends upon 
the proofs he is able to give of the reality of his 
vocation for a Dervish life. These proofs are found 
in the frequency and vividness of the dreams and 
visions vouchsafed to him, which he is bound to 
communicate to his Superior. 

Admission into the Mevlevi Order is only obtained 
by the performance of an uninterrupted novitiate of 
a thousand and one consecutive days. Should the 
Murid fail in a single day’s duties, or be absent from 
the Tekkeh for one whole night, his probation must 
be re-commenced ; and, whatever his worldly rank, 
he must consider himself the subordinate of every 
member of the Tekkeh. He is instructed in his 
duties by the Ashjibashi, or Chief of the Kitchen, 
spends much of his time in prayer and fasting, and 
in committing to memory the prayers and passages 
of the Koran more especially used by his Order. 
He must also become proficient in the mystic dance, 
and take part in the public services of the Brother¬ 
hood. The novice, having passed through his 
period of probation to the satisfaction of the Chief 
of the Kitchen, that functionary—who acts as his 
sponsor—reports him to the Sheikh as worthy of 
admission to the initiatory grade of the Order, and 
a meeting of all the Brotherhood is convened in the 
Ismi Jelih Hujreh, the private assembly room of 
the Tekkeh. When all are assembled, the Murid is 
led by the Ashjibashi to the Prior, who occupies 
the seat of honour in the angle of the divan ; he 
kisses the extended hand of his Superior, and seats 


THE STAGES OF INITIATION 


97 


himself on the floor before him. His sponsor then 
places his right hand on the neck, and his left on 
the forehead of the neophyte, the Sheikh takes off 
the kulah which, with the rest of the Mevlevi costume 
he has worn during his novitiate, and proceeds to 
chant a Persian distich composed by the founder 
of the Order. He then delivers an exhortation to 
the young disciple, at the termination of which he 
replaces the kulah on his head. The Murid and his 
sponsor now place themselves in the middle of the 
room, where they assume a posture of profound 
humility, standing with folded arms, crossed toes, 
and bowed heads. The Ashjibashi is then addressed 
as follows by the Sheikh :— 

“ May the services of the Murid, thy brother, be 
agreeable to the Throne of the Eternal, and in the 
eyes of our Pir ; may His satisfaction, His felicity, 
and His glory grow in the nest of the humble, in the 
cell of the poor. Let us exclaim Hoo (Him) in 
honour of our Mevlana .” 1 The Murid and his 
sponsor answer “ Hoo ! ” and the former then kisses 
the hand of the Sheikh, who addresses to him some 
paternal remarks on his new position, and concludes 
by asking all the members of the congregation to 
embrace and welcome their new brother. 

A novice of the Bektashi Order is also required 
to perform a novitiate of a thousand and one days, 
during which he frequents the services of the 
Tekkeh. But the formalities observed by this Order 
in the reception of candidates differ from those of 
1 The founder of the Order, Mevlana Jelalu-’d-Din. 


98 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


the Mevlevi Brethren, and are even more elaborate. 
A candidate is recommended to the Sheikh by two 
members of the community who are called his “ Inter¬ 
preters.” 1 He must also have already given during 
his novitiate proofs of spiritual knowledge and 
acquirements, and have faithfully kept certain 
pretended secrets of the Order imparted to him as 
tests of his powers of reticence. His reception into 
the Brotherhood is also determined by the revela¬ 
tions concerning him received, in dreams or visions, 
by the Sheikh from the Pir or from Ali. What 
is thus revealed is not communicated to the 
neophyte. 

On the evening appointed for the ceremony of 
initiation—for the services of the Bektashi Order 
are always held by night—the neophyte takes with 
him to the convent a sheep and a small sum of 
money. The sheep is sacrificed on the threshold of 
the Tekkeh, part of its wool is twisted into a rope, 
the rest being preserved to be made later on into a 
girdle for his use. If the candidate desires to take 
the vow of celibacy, he is stripped naked ; but if 
he proposes, as in the generality of cases, to take 
only the ordinary, or secular vow of this wide¬ 
spread and numerous Order, his breast only is 
bared. With the rope round his neck he is led by 
his “ Interpreters,” one of whom carries the symbol 
termed the tebber, a kind of battle-axe, into the hall 
of the Tekkeh. Here he stands with his arms folded 

1 Terjuman. This term also signifies the secret pass- 
word or phrase of the Bektashi Order. 



MEVLEVI NEOPHYTE LEARNING THE DEYR 















THE STAGES OF INITIATION 


99 


across his breast, his hands on his shoulders, his 
toes crossed, and his body inclined towards the 
Sheikh — a posture signifying abject humility 
and designated buyun kesmek. The Prior and 
the Twelve Elders are seated around the hall on 
their sheepskins, a lighted candle being placed 
in front of each. One of the “ Interpreters ” 
announces to the Prior that he has brought to him 
a slave, and requests his acceptance of the gift. 
He acquiesces, and the neophyte, addressing him, 
repeats this prayer :— 

“ I have erred ; pardon my fault, O Shah ! For 
the sake of the Accepted One (Ali) of the Exalted 
Place ; for the sake of the Martyr (Hussein). I have 
done wrong to myself, and to our Lord, and I implore 
pardon of Him.” 

His “ fault ” is supposed to consist in having so 
long delayed to join the Order. The Sheikh then 
recites a sort of Litany, to which the Murid makes 
the responses. 

“ In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and the 
Clement:— 

“ I beseech Allah’s forgiveness (thrice repeated); 
I have come to implore pardon ; I have come in 
search of the Truth ; I ask it for the sake* of the 
Just. Truth is the path which leads to Allah, the 
All True, whom I know. What you term Evil, I 
also know to be Evil, and I will avoid taking with 
my hands what is another’s. . . . Repent of your 
sins unto Allah, a repentance that knows not 
return unto sin.” 


100 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Then follows an exhortation by the Superior :— 

“ Eat nothing forbidden ; speak no falsehood ; 
quarrel with none ; be kind to your inferiors ; over¬ 
look the faults of others, and conceal them. If you 
cannot do this with your hand, do it with your 
skirts, your tongue, and your heart.” 

The novice then kisses the hand of the Sheikh, who 
continues:— 

“ If thou now accept me as thy father, I accept 
thee as my son. Be hereafter the pledge of Allah 
breathed in thy right ear.” 

He then repeats after his Superior the words : 
“ Mohammed is my leader, and Ali is my guide.” 
The Sheikh asks, “ Dost thou accept me as thy Guide 
(meaning as the representative of Ali) ? ” to which 
he responds, “ I accept thee as my Guide ” ; and 
the Sheikh adds, “ Then I accept thee as my 
son.” 

The postulant is now led by his “ Interpreters ” 
to the Sheikh, before whom he first bows low and 
then prostrates himself, touching the floor with his 
forehead. Kneeling opposite to him so closely that 
their knees touch, the Superior takes the postulant’s 
right hand in his, and the thumbs are raised to 
represent the Arabic letter Alif. The latter places 
his ear to the mouth of the Sheikh who imparts to 
him in a whisper the Ikrandmeh, or secret Vows of 
the Order. As the tenets of the Bektashis are 
believed by many to be purely pantheistic, it is 
asserted that the words whispered by the Sheikh to 
the Murid convey a doctrine to which he must 


THE STAGES OF INITIATION 101 


assent on pain of death, and admit the unity of 
God and Nature. But this assertion is positively 
denied by others ; and it would, indeed, be difficult 
to prove it, as the secrets of the Order are never 
committed to writing, and are known only to its 
members, who, it is believed, are deterred by 
the most frightful penalties from divulging 
them. 

When the disciple is presented with the girdle 
and the stone worn in it, the Prior, as he binds it 
round his waist says to him : “I now bind up thy 
waist in the path of Allah—O Holy Name, possessed 
of all knowledge ! Whoever knows this Name will 
become the successor of his Sheikh (. Naib ).” Certain 
principles of the Order are then imparted to the 
novice, who is also instructed in various mystic 
tenets concerning the universe and the Koran. The 
Sheikh then sums up by saying, “ There is but one 
Light, and the Truth is (as) the Moon. He who has 
found the science of his own body (called the Ilum 
i Vurgood, his spiritual counterpart 1 ) knows his 
Lord ; for the holy Prophet has said, ‘ To know 
thyself is to know thy Lord.’ In this is comprised 
a knowledge of thine own secret, and that of thy 
Creator.” 

When a Bektashi takes the vow of celibacy, he 
is asked by the Sheikh whether, if he break it, he is 
willing to come under the sword of Ali, to which 
he replies in the affirmative. The inner signification 
of this phrase is said to contain one of the secret 

1 See above, p. 36. 

8—(2119) 


102 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


vows of the Order. On putting on for the first 
time the sash or Alif-lam, 1 he says, “ I abandon all 
matrimony, and bind myself by this sash so to do.” 
The Murid then recites chapter cxii of the Koran ; 
after which the Sheikh declares to him that “ Allah 
doth not engender or bring forth, and so may men 
tell of thee, and no one is equal to Him.” 

Twelve being the Bektashi mystical number, a 
member having broken a vow, incurs twelve punish¬ 
ments. One of their secret signs is said to consist 
of the words Tehran and Toolan —“ far ” and “ near ” 
—signifying “ near in affection and far in conceit.” 

The ceremonies of affiliation of the other Orders 
bear a great resemblance to the foregoing, with the 
exception of those of the Kadiri, the Rufa’i, the 
Sa’di. 

A novice of the Rufa’i receives from the Sheikh 
a small cup of water from the Zemzem —the Sacred 
Well of Mekka—which, after reciting a prayer over, 
he drinks. 

At the initiation of a Sadi Dervish, a number 
of dates are placed before the Superior. He selects 
one, extracts the stone, breathes upon the fruit and 
puts it into the mouth of the neophyte who is seated 
on the floor before him. Two members of the Order 
seat themselves to the right and left of him, and 
proceed to sway him from side to side, reciting at 
the same time: “There is no God but Allah,” the 
Sheikh doing the same, until he has swallowed the 
date. All then rise, and the Murid , after kissing 

1 The first and last letters of the Arabic alphabet. 


THE STAGES OF INITIATION 103 


the hand of the superior, is acknowledged as a 
brother by the rest of the congregation. 

A person wishing to join the Kadiri Order inti¬ 
mates his desire to one of its members. The Dervish 
enjoins him to frequent the Tekkeh and its services, 
and also to wait upon the brethren and their guests. 
These menial duties are required from every neo¬ 
phyte, whatever his worldly rank may be. The period 
of probation lasts for many months, during which 
time the Murid becomes greatly attached to his 
Superior. When he has been deemed worthy to enter 
the ranks of the Dervishes, he is directed to procure 
a cap of plain white felt, which is carried 
by his sponsor to the Sheikh. A gul, or piece of 
cloth stamped into the shape of a rose of eighteen 
petals, and having in the centre the “ Solomon’s 
Seal ”—two interlaced triangles—is then attached 
to it. When the brethren assemble in the Tekkeh 
for the performance of the Zikr, or invocation of 
Allah, the Sheikh takes his place on his sheepskin 
and the neophyte, led by his sponsor, kneels before 
him and kisses his hand. The Sheikh takes off the 
novice’s ordinary cap, and replaces it by that 
bearing the “ Rose,” which he has carried in his 
bosom, and says, three times, “ Allahu Ekber ” 
(God is Great). 

A disciple does not, however, even after this 
formal reception into it, become at once a full 
member of the Order. This grade is only reached 
after, it may be, years of further probation, and its 
attainment depends upon the proofs he is able to 


104 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


give of his progress in spirituality. His final 
admission to full brotherhood is usually determined 
by a revelation from the Pir, or from Ali, received 
simultaneously by himself and his Sheikh. While 
passing through these intermediate stages, the 
aspirant is under the guidance of the Superior or of 
an initiate who has himself reached the highest 
degree. During the first stage, which is termed 
Sheriat, or “ the Law,” the disciple observes all the 
usual rites of Moslem worship, obeys all the com¬ 
mands and precepts of the Koran like any other 
True Believer, and is treated by the Brethren of 
the community as an uninitiated outsider. He is 
taught at the same time to concentrate his thoughts 
so completely on his “ Guide ” as to become mentally 
absorbed in him as a spiritual link with the supreme 
object of all devotion. This Guide must be the 
neophyte’s shield against all worldly thoughts and 
desires ; his spirit must aid him in all his efforts, 
accompany him wherever he may be, and be ever 
present to his mental vision. Such a frame of mind 
is termed “ annihilation into the Murshid,” and 
the Guide discovers, by means of his own visions, 
the degree of spirituality to which his disciple has 
attained, and to what extent his soul has become 
absorbed into his own. 

The Murid now enters upon what, in Dervish 
phraseology, is called “ the Path.” During this 
period, which forms in reality the transition from 
outward to hidden things, the disciple is familiar¬ 
ised with those philosophical writings of the great 


THE STAGES OF INITIATION 105 


Sufi masters which form the chief subject of the 
lectures and studies of the Order. He is taught to 
substitute spiritual for ritual worship, and led by 
degrees to abandon the dogmas and formulas of 
Islam as necessary only for the unenlightened 
masses. This method is, however, pursued with 
great tact and caution, for a disciple is not released 
from the usual observances of religion until he has 
given proof of sincere piety, virtue, exceptional 
spirituality, and extreme asceticism ; and a Dervish 
at this stage of his novitiate passes most of his time 
in solitary contemplation, endeavouring to detach 
his mind from all visible objects in order to attain 
the desired union with the Deity. His Guide, mean¬ 
while, imparts to him his own mystical philosophy 
as he finds him capable of receiving it. If the 
disciple’s religious feelings appear to be shocked by 
any maxim to which he has given utterance, the 
already mentioned Jesuitical expedient known as the 
Ketman supplies the Master with a double sense which 
enables him at once to convince his disciple of the 
groundlessness of his objections. If, on the contrary, 
the Murshid finds his pupil’s theological digestion 
robust, his advance on the path will be correspond¬ 
ingly rapid. He is now supposed to come under the 
spiritual influence of the Pir, or founder of the Order, 
in whom he in turn becomes mentally absorbed to 
such a degree as to be virtually one with him, 
acquiring his attributes and power of performing 
supernatural acts. 

The next stage of the mystic life is that termed 


106 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


by the Dervishes “ Spiritual Knowledge,” and the 
disciple who believes himself, and is believed by his 
Sheikh to have attained to such knowledge or, in 
other words, to have become inspired, is held to be 
on an equality with the Angels. He now enters 
into spiritual communion with the Prophet himself, 
into whose soul his own has become absorbed. 

The fourth degree is usually attained during the 
forty days of fasting and seclusion, observed by 
every Dervish during his novitiate. In his ecstatic 
state he believes himself to have become a part of 
the Divinity, and sees Him in all things. The 
Sheikh, after witnessing this remarkable proof of 
the success of his teachings, gently awakens the 
disciple from his ecstasy, and having restored him 
to his normal condition, bestows upon him the rank 
of khalifeh (“ successor ”). The mystic now resumes 
his outward observance of the rites of Islam, and 
prepares for his pilgrimage to the Holy Cities. 

Not every Dervish, however, attains even to the 
third grade ; and the highest is attained only by 
the few. Those less spiritually gifted, or less 
mystically minded, still continue to recognise the 
personal and anthropomorphic Allah of the Koran, 
and look forward at death only to a closer intimacy 
with Him than that which will be enjoyed by those 
who have not entered on “ the Path.” 


CHAPTER VII 


THE COSTUMES, MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, AND 
SYMBOLIC OBJECTS OF THE DERVISHES 

“.flutes 

In Dervish hands at mystic dance. 

Whose hopes or fears, loves, joys, or cares. 

Are whispered in ecstatic trance.'’ 

Izzet Molla, The Reedpen’s Reply. 

“ Stone about its waist begirdled, and with iron 
staff in hand, 

Tremblingly the compass-needle seeketh for the 
Loved One’s Land.” 

Jam!. 

The Dervishes of the various Orders may be easily 
distinguished from their fellow-men, and also, 
generally, from each other, by their costumes, and, 
more particularly, by the shape of their head¬ 
dresses ; and to the latter, as well as to every other 
article of their clothing, some symbolic meaning, 
and, in many cases, some legend is attached. 

The out-of-door costume of the Mevlevi Order is 
said to have been adopted by their talented founder 
Mevlana (Our Lord) Jelalu-’d-DIn, as a sign of 
mourning for his friend and spiritual master, 
Shemsu-’d-DIn (“ Sun of the Faith ”). It consists 
of a tall hat called a kulah, of undyed camel’s hair 
felt, in shape like an inverted plantpot. Their 
Sheikhs, who all claim descent from the family of 
the Prophet, are, on this account, entitled to wear 
round their kulah a green turban. The legend 

107 



108 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


attached to this head-dress says that the soul of 
Mohammed had a previous existence in the Alemi 
Ervah, or Spirit World, where Allah placed it in a 
vase of light of that shape. The lay members of 
the Order, who do not wear the Dervish dress except 
when taking part in its ceremonies, often, when in 
private, lay aside their ordinary fez, or turban, and 
don the kulah, in order to enjoy the happy influence 
it is believed to exert on the wearer. When the 
son of Othman I, Solyman Pasha, asked the blessing 
of the Mevlevi Grand Master at Konieh on the 
expedition he was undertaking against the Byzantine 
Greeks, that dignitary placed on his head a kulah, 
and prophesied that “ victory should go with him.” 
The prince showed his reverence for the gift by 
having it covered with silver. So high was the 
favour which this Order enjoyed under the early 
Sultans, that their kulah became the state head¬ 
dress at the Ottoman Court. It was worn, orna¬ 
mented with gold embroidery, by successive “ Com¬ 
manders of the Faithful,” and also, variously deco¬ 
rated, by civil and military dignitaries until the 
beginning of the present century, when “ the 
Reforming Sultan,” Mahmoud II, relegated its use 
to the officers of the Janissary Corps. 

The khirkha of the Mevlevi Order is a long, loose, 
wide-sleeved robe of fawn-coloured cloth for ordinary 
wear, and of black stuff when used to cover the 
costume in which they dance. Like the mantles 
of the Dervishes generally, it is more or less a copy 
of that believed to have been worn by the Prophet. 


THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


109 


The tennuri, or skirt, is worn only by Mevlevi 
Dervishes when performing their religious exercises. 
It may be red, yellow, or brown ; is made very wide 
and without gores, and reaches to the feet. The 
rapid motion of the wearers when spinning round 
in their mystic dance extends these skirts to their 
full width, exposing to view the drawers of white 
linen worn beneath. The upper part of the body is 
clad in a short jacket of coloured material with 
tight-fitting sleeves, and round the waist is bound 
the taybend, a girdle containing in its folds the 
“ Stone of Contentment.” This is commemorative 
of the stones formerly carried by begging Dervishes, 
who bound them close to their stomachs in order to 
suppress the pangs of hunger. Three were usually 
carried, though their wearers confidently believed 
that Allah would not fail to send relief before the 
necessity arose for using the full number. 

The use of vocal and instrumental music by this 
Order is said to have been adopted by its founder 
in order to rouse the lethargic natures of the inhabi¬ 
tants of Rum to a devotional love of Allah through 
the allurement of sweet sounds addressed to their 
outward senses. The orchestra of their chief Tekkeh 
at Konieh is composed of six different instruments, 
among which are the reedflute and zither, the 
rebeck, a kind of violoncello, drums, and tambourines. 
In the generality of their Tekkehs, however, only 
zithers, reedflutes, and small hemispherical drums 
are used. The music of these flutes appears to have 
a singularly entrancing effect on the Dervishes 


110 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


whose exercises it accompanies. They are lulled and 
soothed by it to a forgetfulness of the visible world 
as if they indeed heard in its strains the mystic 
voices of the spiritual world. In the “ Song of 
the Reed-flute ” above quoted, 1 the Dervish poet 
symbolises under the figure of a Lover sighing for 
his absent Mistress, the Soul of Man languishing for 
reunion with the Divine Love. In the Mesnevi of 
Jelalu-’d-DIn is given the following charmingly 
poetical account of the origin of the reed-flute’s 
mystic music which recalls the beautiful myth of 
Orpheus and his lute. 

“ One day the Prophet privately imparted to Ali 
the Secrets and Mysteries of the ‘ Brethren of Sin¬ 
cerity ’—evidently the original Brotherhood—with 
the injunction not to reveal them to anyone. For 
forty days Ali kept these secrets locked in his 
breast, but feeling no longer able to contain them, 
he fled into the desert. Coming upon a well, he 
stooped as far as possible down its mouth, and to 
the earth and water divulged, one by one, these 
mysteries. Some days afterwards a shepherd youth, 
whose heart had been miraculously enlightened, 
perceived a single reed growing up out of the well. 
He cut it down, drilled holes in it, and, while pas¬ 
turing his sheep in the neighbourhood, breathed 
through the flute he had made melodies like those 
performed by the Dervish Lovers of Allah. Soon 
the various Arab tribes heard of the youth’s wonder¬ 
ful flute-playing, and came to listen to it, accompanied 

1 See p. 52. 


THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


Ill 


by their sheep and camels, which forgot to graze 
while hearkening. The nomad shepherds wept for 
joy and delight, and broke forth into transports and 
ecstasies. The fame of this music at length reached 
the Prophet, who sent for the youthful musician. 
When he began to play before them, all the holy 
disciples of Allah’s Messenger were moved to tears ; 
they burst forth into shouts and exclamations of 
pure bliss, and lost all earthly consciousness. When 
he had ceased, the Prophet declared that the notes 
of the shepherd’s pipe were the interpretation of 
the Holy Mysteries which he had confided to the 
keeping of Ali. 

“ Thus it is,” adds the author, “ that, until a man 
acquires the sincere devotion of the linnet-voiced 
reedflute, he cannot hear in its dulcet tones the 
Mysteries of the Brethren of Sincerity, nor realise 
the delights thereof; for faith is altogether a 
yearning of the heart and a gratification of the 
spiritual sense. 

“The pangs my love for thee excites, can I to mortal breathe ? 
Ah no ! Like Ali’s, some pure fount my sighs, too, must 
receive. 

Perchance some reeds may thence upspring its brink to 
overgrow, 

And plaintive flutes those reeds become to murmur forth 
my woe.” 

The cap, mantle, and girdle of the Bekt&shi Order 
are called by their wearers “ The Three Principles,” 
or “ Points,” and have the following legendary 
origin. The Angel Gabriel on the occasion of one 
of his visits to the Prophet, cut his hair, shaved his 


112 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


beard, and then invested him with a cap, mantle, 
and girdle. This act of service the Angel had pre¬ 
viously performed only for Adam and Abraham. 
Mohammed then proceeded to do for Ali what 
Gabriel had done for him, and Ali in his turn 
performed this office for the Twelve Imams. 

Much symbolic significance is also attached to 
the Bektashi cap. It is called a Taj, or “ crown,” 
and is of white felt, shaped like a dome, and divided 
into four parts by grooves, called “ Doors,” which 
allude to the four great stages of the spiritual life. 
These “ Doors ” are subdivided by other three 
grooves into twelve parts, in remembrance of the 
twelve Imams, and signify also the abandonment of 
twelve sins. The green or black turban worn round 
the cap is called the “ parable ” ( Istlva ). It signifies 
the abandonment of the world for the pursuit of 
high and holy things. As a general rule, the Sheikhs 
alone wear turbans. They, however, frequently 
appoint deputies who, as they bear the same 
honorary title, are also entitled to wear this 
distinctive head-dress. The cap has, besides, 
thirteen mystical significations attached to its 
several parts, among which are its border, circum¬ 
ference, “ key,” or apex, and decoration. This cap 
is, spiritually speaking, of two kinds : the “ Crown 
of the Ignorant ” (Taj i Jahil), the wearers of which 
are often to be seen in the bazaars and public 
streets ; and the “ Crown of the Perfect ” (Taj i 
Kiamil), worn by those who shun, rather than seek, 
intercourse with the world. 


THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


113 


There are also other forms of the Bektashi Taj, 
for, according to their saying : “As all the letters 
of the alphabet grew out of the first one, Alij, so 
the caps of the various Orders were derived from 
the Alifer, or original cap.” It is sometimes also 
called “ the Founder ” {Pir), and was in earlier 
times inscribed with the text: “ All things will 
perish, save His face, and to Him will all things 
return.” On putting it on, the Dervish recites this 
invocation :— 

“ Sign of the glorious [name of the Pir of his 
Order]; of Kamber, [the groom of Ali]; of those 
who are dead ; of the great family of the Imam 
Riza ; 1 permit me to put on this Crown, for I fully 
believe in its virtues. Great is Allah.” 

The mantle of the Bektashi Order, though similar 
in shape, differs from that of the Mevlevi Dervishes 
in being decorated with twelve lines, or stripes, 
symbolical, like the grooves in their “ Crowns,” of 
the Twelve Imams, and is edged with green. Among 
its mystical attributes are the following, with their 
meanings as given by the fourth Imam, Jafer-es-Sadik. 

Its “ True Faith ” = to use it as a covering for 
the faults and follies of others. 

Its Kibleh (point to which the attention is turned, 
or Mekka) = the Pir. 

Its “ Ablution ” = the cleansing from sin. 

Its “ Obligation ” = the forsaking of cupidity. 

Its “ Duty ” = Contentment. 

Its “ Soul ” = the keeping of vows. 

1 The eighth Imam. 


114 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


The different parts of this garment have also their 
several significations. Its border is symbolical of 
the condition of a Dervish ; its collar, of submission ; 
its exterior signifies “ spiritual light,” and its interior 
“ secrecy.” The collar and edges are embroidered 
with Arabic words signifying “ O Friend! ” “ O 
Healer ! ” “ O Great One! ” etc. 

The short tight-sleeved vest worn under the mantle 
is also decorated with twelve stripes of a colour 
different from the material, likewise symbolising the 
twelve Imams. 

The girdle worn folded round the waist under the 
mantle is made from the wool of the sheep sacrificed 
at the initiation of its owner, and is characterised 
by several symbolical names. The Bektashi 
Dervishes relate that its prototype was worn by 
Adam, and subsequently by a succession of sixteen 
Prophets, beginning with Seth, and including Elias, 
Jesus, and Mohammed. Their legend also says 
that the one presented to the Prophet by the Angel 
Gabriel bore the inscription : “ There is no God but 
Allah, Mohammed is His Prophet, and Ali is His 
Friend.” The kamberieh is the rope placed round the 
neck of the Dervish at his initiation, and subsequently 
worn by him round his waist. Three knots are tied 
in it, called respectively the hand-tie, the tongue-tie, 
and the rein-tie, to remind the wearer of his vows 
of truth, honesty, and chastity. It is also com¬ 
memorative of the cord with which Kamber, the 
groom of the Khalif Ali, was in the habit of tethering 
his master’s horse, “ Duldul,” and serves to 


THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


115 


support a septagonal crystal, or stone, called the 
Palenk, symbolising “ the seven heavens and seven 
earths, seven seas and seven planets,” which, 
according to the Koran, obey Allah’s command and 
worship him by revolving round His holy seat. 
Another stone, called the “ Stone of Submission ” 
(teshem task) is worn suspended round the neck, 
and attached to it is the following curious 
legend :— 

“ Moses, the Servant of God, was in the habit of 
bathing in the Nile at a spot remote from that used 
by his fellows for that purpose, in order that they 
might not observe the radiance that emanated from 
his body. The evil-minded took advantage of this 
custom of the Seer to circulate a report that he was 
leprous, or afflicted with elephantiasis, and for that 
reason was ashamed to wash with them. ‘ But 
Allah cleared him from the scandal which they had 
spoken concerning him.’ 1 One day when Moses 
was bathing, he laid his clothes on a stone by the 
riverside. The stone immediately set off at a 
rapid pace towards Misr (Cairo), followed by the 
Seer, who, eager in the chase after his garments, 
found himself amid the Israelites before he was 
aware. When he came up with the stone, in his 
wrath he perforated it with his stick in twelve 
places. The stone then spake and said, ‘ 0 Moses, 
I walked by the command of the Lord, and was the 
cause that thy purity has been witnessed by the 
people.’ Moses, being sorry for his unjust behaviour, 

1 Koran, Chap, xxxiii. 


116 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


said, ‘ I have perforated thee in twelve places, 
for which I ask thy forgiveness —A Dervish is 
forgiven by Dervishes' 1 ‘ Well, Moses,’ replied the 

stone, ‘ I am satisfied with thy excuses ; but now 
take a cord, and pass it through one of the holes, 
and keep me till thou requirest a collar of penitence.’ 
Moses did as the stone commanded, and suspended 
it round his neck.” “ And this,” says the Dervish 
Evliya, “ is the origin of the stones generally worn by 
Dervishes, and also of that put on by penitents, 
both of which are called sigil tashi .” According to 
the same author, this is the stone that spake to 
Moses at the rock of Horeb : “ O Moses, put me on 
the ground, and give me twelve blows,” upon which 
twelve streams gushed out of the holes. 

Another legend says that the “ Stone of Submis¬ 
sion ” had its origin with Abu Bekr, who, having 
one day used language which gave offence to the 
Prophet, repented of his fault, and, to guard against 
its repetition, hung round his neck a pebble, 
which he placed in his mouth on entering the 
mosque. 

When putting on for the first time the “ Stone of 
Submission,” the Dervish utters this prayer :— 

“ O Allah, the rites of the Brethren have become 
my faith ; no doubt now exists in my heart. As I 
hang round my neck the teshem tash, I give myself 
to Thee. In the name of Allah, the Merciful, and 
the Clement.” Then follows the recitation of the 

1 This reputed saying of Moses has remained a current 
expression in the mouth of Dervishes. 


THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


117 


chapter of the Koran relative to the striking of the 
rock by Moses. 

A stone of a crescent shape called the mengoosh 
task is also worn as an earring. It is supposed to 
represent the shoe of Ali’s horse “ Duldul.” A 
Dervish who wears it in only one ear is called a 
Hassani; one who wears it in both, a Hussaini — 
these terms referring to the two sons of Ali. The 
wearing of these earrings signifies that the Dervish 
accepts the words of his spiritual Guide as those 
of Allah, and that they are the laws that he 
hangs perpetually over his heart. When he inserts 
them, he prays : “ End of all increase ; Ring about 
the neck of all prosperity ; Token of those who are 
in Paradise ; Gift of the Martyr Shah (Hussein) ! 
Cursed be Yezld ! ” (his murderer). 

The post or postaki, the sheepskin mat on which 
the Dervish sits, has also its attributes. Its head 
signifies “ Submission ” ; its feet, “ Service ” ; the 
right side, the “ Hand ” given to a brother at his 
initiation ; the left, “ Honour ” ; th eeast, “ Secrecy” ; 
the west “ Religion ” ; the middle, “ Love.” It 
has also, among other symbols, its Law, which means 
absorption into the Divine Love, when the soul is 
freed from the body, and wanders away to join 
other sympathetic spirits. 

A curved stick called the chellek is kept in the 
Bektashi Tekkehs for the chastisement of erring 
Dervishes. It is commemorative of that used by 
the Khalif to chastise his groom, Kamber, who 
thenceforth humbly carried it in his girdle. 

9—(2119) 


118 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


A curiously shaped instrument called the tebber has 
been mentioned as used by the Bektashis at their 
ceremonies of initiation, when it is carried by one of 
the “ Interpreters,” or sponsors. The members of 
this Order carry also a horn in shape like that of a 
wild goat, and a two-beaked almsbowl. The former 
is sounded in the Tekkehs to call the Brethren to 
their meals and devotions, and is used generally as a 
signal from one Dervish to another. It appears to be 
an imitation of that said to be carried by the Angel 
Gabriel, and is also called by one of the attributes 
of the Deity—“ O Loving”—and a Bektashi 
carrying it makes use of that exclamation. 

The cap of the Rufa’i, or, as they are commonly 
termed by Europeans, the “ Howling ” Dervishes, 
is very similar in form and material to that worn 
by the Bektashi Order, and is also called a “ Crown.” 
It is of undyed felt, but divided into eight, instead 
of twelve grooves, each signifying the renunciation 
of a sin—or what they conceive to be such. The 
“ Crowns ” of their Sheikhs are, however, divided 
into twelve grooves which have the same sym¬ 
bolism as those of the Bektashis, and their turbans 
are black. 

The mantles of the Rufa’i Order may be of any 
colour, but are always bordered with green. The 
reason for this is given in the following some¬ 
what vapid little legend : “ The Prophet once, on 

receiving some good tidings from the Angel Gabriel, 
started up and turned round so suddenly that his 
green mantle fell off his shoulders. His disciples 



A MEVLEVI PLAYER ON THE KEY, OR REED-FLUTE 

































THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


119 


(with his consent, presumably) took possession of 
the mantle, tore it into shreds, and sewed them 
round the edges of their own garments. As the 
Prophet frequently wore a black khirka, the Sheikhs 
of this Order often follow his example.” 1 

The knives, red-hot irons and coals, and other 
instruments used by the Rufa’i Order in their 
extraordinary religious exercises, are called by the 
symbolic name of “ Roses .” 2 This is evidently 
connected with the rose-symbolism of the Kadiri 
Order, whose Pir or founder, Abdul KSdr Ghilani, 
was, as above mentioned, the uncle and spiritual 
teacher of the Pir of the Rufa’i Dervishes. 

The Kadiri Rose, embroidered on the “ Crowns ” 
of the Brethren of that Order, is to them full of 
mystic meaning. Tradition says that the Prophet 
bestowed the name of his “ Two Roses ” on his 
grandsons, Hasan and Hussain ; and the Sheikhs of 

1 Tradition relates that the Prophet, at his death, 
bequeathed his mantle to the Dervish Sheikh Uwais, referred 
to on p. 2. It is said to be a long robe of woollen material 
made with a collar, and wide sleeves reaching to the knee. 
The charge of this sacred garment has ever since remained 
in the family of Uwais. Some years ago when the here¬ 
ditary guardian of this sacred relic happened to be a minor, 
a Vakil, or deputy, was appointed by the Sultan to discharge 
this duty. The mantle is enshrined in one of the buildings 
comprised within the Old Serai at Stamboul, where it is 
“ venerated ” by the Sultan and his Court on the occasion 
of the annual festival of the Khirka Shereef, and also on the 
occasion of important national events. 

2 To speak of wounds as “ flowers ” is a common figure 
of speech with Eastern poets. Compare, for instance, 
Gibb, Ottoman Poetry, p. 240. 


120 


MYSTICISM ANI) MAGIC 


the Order, who all claim descent from the family of 
Mohammed, are credited with the possession of 
peculiar powers in connection with this flower . 1 

According to a legend of this Order, its Pir was 
directed by Khidhr 2 to proceed to Bagdad and there 
take up his abode. On arriving at that city Abdul 
Kadr received from the resident Sheikh a cup filled 
to the brim with water, which signified that the 
place was already full of holy men, and that there 
was consequently no room for him. Replying in 
the same symbolic language, the Saint miraculously 
created a rose—it was mid-winter—and placed it in 
the cup, which did not even then overflow. When 
this was carried back to the resident Sheikh, he and 
those with him read the message : “ There is yet 
room in Bagdad for the Kadiri Rose.” Marvelling 
at the miracle, they exclaimed, “ The Sheikh Abdul 
Kadr is our Rose ! ” and going out to meet their 
saintly guest, they conducted him into the city 
with every mark of respect. 

The conventional rose of the Kadiri has eighteen 
petals arranged in three rings of five, six, and seven 
respectively, and its colours are yellow, red, white 
and black. The five petals are symbolical of the 
“ five virtues ” attributed by the Pir of the Order 

1 Sulieman Effendi’s work on the Mevlad, or Birth of the 
Prophet, contains the following couplet in reference to 
Abdul Kadr :— 

Whenever he perspired, each drop became a rose, 

Each drop, as down it rolled, was gathered as a 
treasure. 

2 See above, p. 22. 


THE COSTUMES, ETC. 


121 


to the followers of Islam ; the six are symbolical 
of the six characteristics of faith ; and the seven 
refer to the seven verses of the Fatiha , the first 
chapter of the Koran, which is also denominated, 
among other honourable titles, the “ Holy Crown,” 
and the “ Mother of the Koran.” 

The Hamzavi Order appear to have no distinctive 
costume, neither do they make use of any mystical 
symbols in their worship. On their tombstones, 
however, are sculptured peculiar signs consisting of 
single and double triangles, with dots above and 
below the angles, and the “ Solomon’s Seal ” of six 
points, without the dots. 

The Dervish tesbeh, or Rosary, consists of ninety- 
nine beads, the number of the “ Beautiful names of 
Allah ” ; and as a Dervish invokes each one of these 
in his Zikr , he records it upon his beads. The 
rosary is also divided into three equal parts, each 
of which signifies a formula of worship. 

The foregoing are, so far as it is possible to ascer¬ 
tain, the chief among the emblematical meanings 
connected with the costumes worn and the objects 
used by the various Orders. They, however, by 
no means exhaust the list. For, to quote again 
from Evliya Effendi, “ a Dervish’s dress is covered 
without and within with a thousand and one symbols 
which give occasion for a thousand and one ques¬ 
tions. He who is capable of answering them all is 
a Master of the Science of Mysticism, a true Ascetic, 
and an Ocean of Knowledge.” 


CHAPTER VIII 

THE VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 

“ Each Saint and Seer a sacred rite has all his own ; 

Yet, as each rite to Allah leads, their rites are one.” 

Jelalu-’d-DIn. The Mesnevi. 

“ Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere 
Of planets, and of fixed, in all her wheels 
Resembles nearest.” 

Milton. Paradise Lost, v, 620-2. 

The religious exercises of the Dervishes may be 
said to be, speaking generally, of but two varieties, 
the Vocative and the Contemplative. The Orders 
which follow the Vocative form claim descent from 
the original congregation of the Khalif Ali; and 
their authority for this mode of worship they profess 
to find in the Prophet’s injunction : “ Call loudly 
and without ceasing on the name of Allah! ” given, 
tradition says, in reply to his nephew’s enquiry as 
to what he ought to do in order to obtain Divine 
assistance. The Contemplative Orders, who claim 
descent from the Brotherhood of Abu Bekr, the 
Prophet’s uncle, quote, on the other hand, Moham¬ 
med’s injunction to him when they were concealed 
together in a cave during the Flight, to recite 
mentally the Zikr , or invocation of the Divine Name. 
The exercises of many of the leading Orders, how¬ 
ever, and especially of those who follow the vocative 
form of worship, present other, and even more 

122 


VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 123 


marked dissimilarities. The services of the Mevlevi, 
Rufai, and a few of the other Orders are public, and 
even foreigners, who are rarely admitted into the 
mosques at the hours of prayer, are courteously 
welcomed in the Tekkehs of such Orders. The 
devotions of the rest are performed strictly in 
private, and do not, indeed, appear to be of a 
character attractive to outsiders. 

The Mevlevi Order is distinguished by its peculiar 
dance, which differs entirely from the religious 
exercises of the rest of the Dervishes. The accom¬ 
paniment to this sacred dance of instrumental and 
vocal music is said to have been introduced by the 
founder, of the Order, Jelalu-’d-DIn ; but dancing, 
or twirling, by Dervishes had evidently a much 
more ancient origin, as mention of it occurs in the 
“ Thousand Nights and a Night.” The number of 
brethren taking part in the ceremony is usually from 
fifteen to thirty, including the musicians. When 
the latter, wearing their tall hats and long cloaks, 
have taken their places in the gallery, the rest of the 
fraternity, similarly dressed, their dancing skirts 
being tucked up and covered by their mantles, enter 
the Tekkeh barefooted, and seat themselves to the 
left of the doorway on the strip of carpet that 
borders the octagonal, or circular central space. The 
Sheikh, who wears in addition a green turban round 
his kulah, advances to a small prayer-mat opposite 
his disciples, and the service begins at once with the 
Namaz —the devotions performed five times daily 
by all good Moslems. The Sheikh then invites the 


124 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


brethren to join him in reciting the Fatiha in these 
words : " Let us chant the Fatiha, glorifying the 
holy name of Allah, in honour of the blessed religion 
of the Prophets, but, above all, of Mohammed 
Mustapha, the greatest, the most august, the most 
magnificent of all the celestial envoys, and in 
memory also, of the first four Khalifs (then follows 
a list of names of the family of the Prophet, the Pir, 
and other holy men). Let us pray for the constant 
prosperity of our holy society, for the preservation 
of the very learned and venerable Chelebi Effendi, 1 
our Master and Lord ; for the preservation of the 
Sultan, the very majestic and clement Emperor of the 
faith of Islam ; for the prosperity of the Grand Vizier, 
and the Sheikh-ul-Islam, and that of all Moham¬ 
medan armies, and of all pilgrims to the holy city 
of Mekka. Let us pray for the repose of the souls 
of all the Pirs and of all the Dervishes of all other 
Orders ; for all good people, for all those who have 
been distinguished for their good works, their 
foundations [of charitable establishments], and 
their acts of beneficence. Let us also pray for the 
Moslems of both sexes in the East and the West, 
for the maintenance of all prosperity, for the pre¬ 
vention of all adversity, for the accomplishment of 
all salutary vows, and for the success of all praise¬ 
worthy enterprises. Let us finally beseech Allah 
to deign to preserve us in the gift of His grace, 
and in the fire of Holy Love.” 

The Dervishes then chant the Fatiha : “ Praise 

1 The General of the Order. 


VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 125 


be to Allah, the Lord of all creatures, the Most 
Merciful, the King of the Day of Judgment. 
Thee do we worship, and of Thee do we beg 
assistance. Direct us in the right way, in the 
way of those to whom Thou hast been gracious, 
and not of those against whom Thou art incensed, 
nor of those who go astray.” This is followed 
by a prayer to the Pir asking for his intercession 
with Allah and the Prophet. The Sheikh then 
steps off his prayer-mat, and, standing to the right 
of it, bows low in reverence to the Pir, by whom 
it is believed to be now occupied. Taking a step 
forward, he twists himself round, and, standing to 
the left of the mat, he bows again. He then resumes 
his former place, and one of the brethren in the 
orchestra chants a hymn in praise of the Prophet 
which is followed by a performance by the 
orchestra. 

An elder, called the Serna Zdn —who, like the 
Sheikh, retains his cloak all through the ceremony 
and does not join in the dew, or turning—now leaves 
his place among the Dervishes and approaches his 
Superior. Standing with his right great toe crossed 
over the left, and his arms crossed on his breast, he 
bows first to the right then to the left of the Sheikh, 
kisses his hand, and then takes up his position in the 
centre of the hall. The rest of the brethren, who 
have in the meantime risen to their feet, taken off 
their cloaks and let fall their skirts, now advance in 
single file. FollQwing the example of the Semd Zdn, 
they bow to the right and left of the Sheikh’s prayer 


126 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


mat, with crossed toes, arms folded, and hands 
grasping their shoulders, and then kiss the hand of 
their Master, who in return bestows a kiss on their 
kulahs. This done, they immediately begin to turn, 
balancing themselves on the left foot while main¬ 
taining a rotatory motion with the right. The 
Sheikh meanwhile remains standing with devout 
mien and downcast eyes. Gradually the arms of 
the dancers are extended ; the right hand is raised 
with the palm uppermost, and the left lowered with 
the palm turned downwards. The eyes are closed, 
and the head inclined on the left shoulder. Mentally 
reciting the Zikr they whirl round the “ Hall of 
Celestial Sounds.” The faces of even the youngest 
members wear an expression of deep serenity as 
they revolve to the sound of the flutes and drums, 
a music which appears to have an entrancing effect 
on those who understand its mystic language. For 
the Dervish “ Lovers of Allah ” it expresses the 
harmony of His creation in which they circle like 
the stars of the empyrean, isolated from the world 
in a rapture of spiritual love and communion with 
Him. 

Some of the younger Dervishes spin very rapidly. 
At the Mevleh Khaneh at Salonica I used to remark 
particularly two neophytes, evidently under eighteen 
years of age, who were extraordinarily proficient in 
this exercise; but some of the older brethren 
turned very slowly and feebly. None, however, 
showed any signs of fatigue or giddiness. When 
the devr has continued for some ten or fifteen 


VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 127 


minutes, the Serna Zdn gives the signal for its dis¬ 
continuance by stamping with one thinly-shod foot 
on the floor. The Dervishes, as a rule, all stop at 
the same instant like the wheels of a machine, and, 
very curiously, all in a circle with their faces turned 
towards the Sheikh, though sometimes one or two, 
more absorbed than the rest in their mystic ecstasy, 
fail to hear the signal, which has sometimes to be 
repeated more than once. Crossing their arms on 
their breasts, and grasping their shoulders, they 
bow low to their superior, and then, falling into 
single file, pass before him with the same reverences 
as before, and re-commence their gyrations. This 
exercise is usually repeated a third time, after which 
the Dervishes resume their seats on the floor, and 
cover themselves with their mantles. The service 
concludes with recitations from the Koran, and the 
customary prayer for the Sultan. 

Each Tekkeh has a particular day, or days, in 
the week for the public performances of the brethren, 
and, in places like Constantinople, where there are 
several communities belonging to the same Order, 
the Dervishes visit and take part in each other’s 
ceremonies. Nothing, however, forbids a Dervish 
to take part in the religious exercises of another 
Order, save want of the necessary practice and skill. 
If a Kadiri, for instance, can perform the devr of 
the Mevlevi Order, he has only to apply to the 
superintendent of the Tekkeh for a costume and is 
welcome to enter the hall with the brethren. 

Among the Rufai, Kadiri, Khalveti, Bairami, 


128 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Gulshani, Ushaki and some other Orders, the devr 
consists in the Dervishes holding each other by the 
hand, or pressing closely together, and increasing 
the movements of their bodies at every step they 
take in making the round of the hall. A performer 
may disengage himself from the circle and desist 
from the devr at any moment he pleases ; but those 
gifted with greater powers of endurance and more 
enthusiastic temperaments strive by their exertions 
to excite the rest. These take off their “ crowns ”— 
which they hand to the Sheikh—form an inner circle, 
entwine their arms and press their shoulders 
together, repeating incessantly Yd Allah! or 
Yd Hoo ! until compelled by sheer exhaustion to 
desist. 

The Rufai Order not only exceed the others in the 
violence of their exercises, but use also in their 
frenzy knives, fire, and hot irons. The opening 
ritual is the same as that of the generality of the 
Orders, but the services last longer, and are divided 
into five distinct ceremonies, some of which are 
peculiar to this Order. The Sheikh is seated on a 
sheepskin mat in front of the kibleh —the niche in 
the wall which indicates the direction of Mekka— 
and the service opens with acts of homage performed 
before him. Four of the elders first approach, 
embrace each other, and seat themselves two on 
either side of their superior. The other Dervishes 
then come forward one by one, with crossed arms 
and bowed heads. They first salute the name of 
the Founder engraved on a tablet of stone over the 


VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 129 


kibleh , pass both their hands over their faces and 
beards, and, kneeling in turn before the Superior, kiss 
his hand, and then proceed to their places on the 
sheepskin mats spread in a horse-shoe design in 
front of him. All now chant the Tekbir and the 
Fatiha. This concluded, the Sheikh pronounces the 
first attribute of the Deity, repeating it incessantly 
while the disciples respond Allah ! Allah! swaying 
themselves from side to side and placing their hands 
in turn on various parts of their bodies. One of 
the elders then commences the second half of the 
service by chanting a hymn in praise of the Prophet, 
the Dervishes meanwhile continuing their repetition 
of the Zikr ; now, however, moving their bodies 
backwards and forwards. After a while they spring 
to their feet, and stand close together, swaying by 
a movement of the whole body from side to side, 
and then again backwards and forwards, all observ¬ 
ing an exact rhythm in their exercise, and con¬ 
tinuing the ejaculation of Allah! Allah! varied 
occasionally by that of Yd Hoo ! (“ 0 Him ! ”). 
They now appear violently agitated, sigh and sob, 
shed tears, and perspire profusely ; their eyes are 
closed, their faces pale, and their expression and 
demeanour languid in the extreme. 

The third scene commences to the sound of an 
Ilahi, or mystical song composed by one of the many 
canonised Sheikhs of this Order. While it is being 
sung by two of the elders, the most enthusiastic 
of the brethren places himself in the midst of his 
fellows, and by his example excites them to a higher 


130 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


pitch of religious fervour. Should a Dervish belong¬ 
ing to another community happen to be present, 
it is considered an act of courtesy to offer him this 
office, and should there be several visitors, they 
perform it in succession. A Mevlevi, however, is 
not expected to perform any but his own Devr. 

In the fourth scene all the Dervishes lay aside 
their turbans, form a circle with arms and shoulders 
pressed against each other, and make the circuit of 
the hall, alternately striking the floor with their 
feet in unison, and springing up in a body. The 
two elders continue their chanting, interrupted from 
time to time by cries of Yd Allah! and Yd Hoo ! 
which increase, when shouted all together, to the 
extraordinary sound which has gained for them the 
name of the “ Howling Dervishes.” If at any 
moment they appear about to stop from sheer 
exhaustion, the Sheikh exhorts them to fresh exer¬ 
tions by placing himself in their midst. The elders 
follow suit and outdo the rest in physical agitation, 
exciting their emulation by every means in their 
power. Two Dervishes now take down from niches 
in the wall several sharp-pointed iron instruments, 
and, having heated them red hot in a brazier, present 
them to the Sheikh. And now commences the final 
scene. 

The Sheikh recites prayers over the instruments, 
invokes the name of the Pir, breathes upon them, 
raises them to his lips, and then presents them to 
his disciples. These devotees, excited by their 
previous exercises, are now in the state of religious 



TIIE DEYR OF THE MEVLEVI ORDER 







































































































































VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 131 


delirium called hal. Some eagerly seize the hot 
irons, regard them fondly, plunge them into their 
flesh, lick them, or hold them in their mouths ; and 
all without evincing any sign of pain, but rather 
as if intoxicated by the perfume of the “ Rose of 
Bagdad,” of which they are said to be mystically 
symbolical. 1 Others seize daggers from their resting- 
places on the walls, or hot coals from the brazier, with 
which they cut or burn their flesh. Some fall, over¬ 
come by their excitement, into the arms of their 
brethren; and all finally sink, exhausted and 
unconscious, on the floor. The Sheikh presently 
walks among them, whispers in their ears a mystical 
word that recalls them to consciousness, breathes 
upon them, and anoints their wounds with his 
saliva. It is said, and indeed commonly believed 
by the Mohammedan spectators, that all traces of 
their hurts disappear within twenty-four hours. A 
Rufai legend says that their founder, Ahmed Said 
Rufai, having on one occasion put his legs in a pan 
of live coals, his burns were immediately healed by 
the nefs (breath) and saliva of his uncle, Abdul 
Kadr Ghilani, who at the same time endowed with 
his healing power the Rufai Pir. 

The Devr of the Sadi Order is similar to that 
just described, but leads to no self-mutilations. It 
consists chiefly of violent changes of attitude and 
physical agitation, continued until the devotees 
finally fall exhausted and unconscious. 

The Kadiris, after reciting the Fatiha already 

1 See above, p. 119. 


132 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


described, take each other by the shoulders and 
turn in a circle round the hall of their Tekkeh. This 
variety of the devr was not originated by the 
founder of the Order, but was adopted at the 
instance of one of its most eminent Sheikhs. 

Among the “ contemplative ” Dervishes the 
Bektashis are the most numerous. Their devotions, 
after the customary recitations, are conducted in 
silence, a form of worship known as the Hiffi. 

The service of the Nakshibendi Order consists of 
one prayer called the Iklah, repeated a thousand and 
one times. This number of pebbles is distributed 
among the brethren who are seated in a circle 
on the floor ; and, as each one completes the mental 
recitation of an Iklah, he lays down before him a 
pebble until the whole number are deposited 
within the circle. 

The Hamzavis, or as they are also called, Melami- 
youns, appear to have in former centuries main¬ 
tained great secrecy with regard to their religious 
rites—a fact that not unnaturally gave rise to 
suspicions of their orthodoxy. They were accused 
of belonging to the Order of Freemasons, 1 and, as 
related in a subsequent chapter, 2 were subjected to 
active persecution. To judge, however, from their 
Litany, they appear to be a singularly pious sect, 
and they enjoy the reputation of being most con¬ 
scientious in all their dealings, living only for 

1 The term Fermason — “ Freemason,” is, among 
orthodox Moslems, synonymous with “ infidel.” 

2 Below, p. 186. 


VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 133 


their doctrines, regardless of the things of this 
world. 

The following account of their rites and principles 
from the writings of Abdul Baki, a Dervish of 
the Order, is quoted from Mr. Brown’s The 
Dervishes 1 :— 

“ Whenever those who follow in this path, and 
who love the unique God, to the number of two or 
three, or more, are about to meet together and join 
in the tevheed and the zikr, and their hearts are 
occupied with their worldly affairs, they should, on 
their way to the place of meeting, employ their 
minds with thoughts of God, in all sincerity and 
purity, and also beg their Pir to lend them his 
spiritual aid, so that when they reach the place of 
meeting they may all, small and great, with humility 
and contrition, embrace the hand of each other, and 
devoutly join in the contemplation of the Deity, 
and turn their faces towards the Grace of the All- 
Just, the ever rising Love of Allah, without har¬ 
bouring in the tongue, in the mind, or otherwise, 
any thoughts respecting worldly concerns, but, 
with perfect hearts and active spirits, take part in 
these pious ceremonies. 

“ They must next offer up those prayers which are 
conformable with the rules of the Order, seat them¬ 
selves, and, if there be among them anyone possess¬ 
ing a pleasing voice, let him read aloud ten verses 
of the great Koran, and interest the congregation 
with some account of the Prophets and Saints, or 

1 P. 182. 

io—(aii9) 


134 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


even of the Deity. No one must feel concern about 
his worldly affairs, but the remarks of all must relate 
to the Love of Allah, or tend to pious fervour. No 
one not belonging to the Order must be admitted, 
for, should any such be present, the peculiar gift of 
God (Faiz Ullah) will not be vouchsafed.” 

The aim of the Nakshibendi Order, in the per¬ 
formance of their ziky, is to detach the senses com¬ 
pletely from worldly surroundings. The Sheikh 
and his disciples sit facing each other, the former 
mentally reciting the invocation, while each of the 
brethren endeavours to keep his attention fixed by 
placing his heart in imagination in view of that of 
his Master, closes his eyes and lips, presses his 
tongue against the roof of his mouth, and so regu¬ 
lates his breathing that between each respiration he 
can mentally repeat three times the zikr. 

As already mentioned, 1 the Order of the Nakshi¬ 
bendi was a revival of the original fraternity of 
Abu Bekr which, by the successful establishment of 
other Orders, had become extinct. The Brother¬ 
hood meet once a week, generally on a Thursday 
at sunset, the hour of the fifth Namaz or daily prayer. 
In each city, suburb, or quarter ( mahallah) the 
members of this religious society assemble at the 
houses of their respective Sheikhs, where, seated 
round the room on the divan, they perform their 
devotions. The Superior, or one of the fraternity, 
chants the prayers, and the assembly responds 
Hoo! or Allah! In. some cities, however, this 

1 Above, p. 17. 


VARIOUS RELIGIOUS EXERCISES 135 


Order possesses special Tekkehs in which their 
services are held ; and in these cases their Sheikh is 
distinguished from his congregation by a turban 
similar to that worn by the Imams who officiate in 
the mosques. 


CHAPTER IX 

SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM 

“The talisman of magic might, 

Hid in some ruin’s lonely site, 

Emerges from its ancient night 
At the mild glance of Dervishes.” 

Hafiz. 

Considering that the existence of magic and 
witchcraft, and the power of the “ Evil Eye ” are 
stated as absolute facts in the Koran, it is not 
surprising that in Mohammedan countries super¬ 
stitious beliefs and practices play so great a part 
in the social life of the people. For to deny the 
existence of magicians and enchantments would 
be tantamount to denying the authenticity of the 
Holy Book ; and a devout Moslem, even if suffi¬ 
ciently enlightened to discredit the popular super¬ 
stitions that meet him at every turn, is constrained 
to admit that magic was practised on the very person 
of the Prophet. The words made use of as counter¬ 
spells, and exorcisms are, indeed, taken chiefly from 
the two chapters of the Koran relating to magic 
and malevolence, and beginning :— 

“ Say, I fly for refuge unto the Lord of the Day¬ 
break, that he may deliver me from the mischief 
of those things which He hath created, and from 
the mischief of the night when it cometh on, and 
from the mischief of women blowing on knots, 


136 


SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM 


137 


and from the mischief of the envious when he 
envieth,” etc. 1 

Commentators on the Koran relate that the 
reason for the revelation of these chapters was that 
a Jew named Lobeid, had, with the assistance of 
his daughters, bewitched Mohammed by tying 
eleven knots in a cord which they hid in a well. 
The Prophet falling ill in consequence, this chapter 
and that following it were revealed; and the 
Angel Gabriel acquainted him with the use he was 
to make of them, and told him where the cord was 
hidden. The Ivhalif Ali fetched the cord, and the 
Prophet repeated over it these two chapters ; at 
every verse a knot was loosed, till, on finishing the 
last words, he was entirely freed from the charm. 2 

In the chapter on Convents and Shrines I have 
described a somewhat similar operation performed 
by a Mevlevi Dervish at the tomb of St. Dimitri. 
In this case, however, the knots were evidently 
made with the object of “ tying up ” sickness and 
other ills. 

The ignorant among the Moslems of Turkey, in 

1 Koran , Surah cxiii. 

2 In a note to this chapter in his translation Mr. Sale says 
that the words “ blowing on knots ” refer to " witches who 
used to tie knots and to blow upon them, uttering at the 
same time certain magical words over them in order to 
work on or debilitate the person they had a mind to in jure.’ ’ 
In the same note it is stated that “ this was a common 
practice in former days—what they call in France nouer 
Veguillette —and the knots which the wizards in the northern 
parts tie when they sell mariners a wind are relics of the 
same superstition. 1 ’ 


138 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


common, it must be admitted, with the native 
Christians and Jews, attribute the majority of the 
ills the flesh is heir to, and also misfortunes gener¬ 
ally, to the influence of magic; and, consequently, 
have recourse to the same mysterious agency for 
their cure. By the populace the Dervishes are held 
to be experts in the magic of the old Paganism, 
belief in which is thus sanctioned by their Holy 
Book. They are, indeed, credited with the faculty 
not only of healing mental and bodily diseases, but 
also of counteracting the effects of witchcraft and 
sorcery, of interpreting dreams, recovering lost or 
stolen property, and even of restoring to wives the 
waning affection of their husbands. When anyone 
falls ill, the women of the family—for it need hardly 
be said that the firmest believers in this mode of 
spiritual cure are of the female sex—send for some 
saintly Sheikh to remove the spell which has caused 
the ailment, or, at least, to counteract its influence. 
This holy man, whose breath, sanctified by the 
constant repetition of the Divine Name ( Zikr ), has 
acquired a supernaturally healing power, breathes 
on the head and afflicted parts of the patient, laying 
at the same time his hands upon him. This con¬ 
cluded, he produces a tiny scroll of paper inscribed 
with some sacred words, or a passage from the Koran, 
which he orders to be either swallowed by the sufferer, 
soaked in water and the liquid drunk, or worn on 
the person for a stated number of days. It is 
recorded in the Mesnevi that Jelalu-’d-Din made 
use of this remedy to cure a disciple suffering from 


SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM 


139 


intermittent fever. The potion was accompanied 
by the following supplication in which the malady 
is personalised and addressed by a propitiatory 
title :— 

“ O Mother of the Sleek One ! If thou hast believed 
in Allah, the Most High, make not the head to 
ache, pollute not the throat, devour not the flesh, 

drink not the blood, and depart thou out of -, 

betaking thyself to one who attributes to Allah 
partners of other false gods. And I testify that 
there is no god but God, and that Mohammed is 
His Servant and Apostle.” 1 

Among other exorcisms, the use of which is said 
to have originated at the time of Mohammed, 
it is related by the historian, Ahmet Effendi, that, 
in the tenth year of the Hegira, the Khalif Ali being 
about to march against the province of Yemen, the 
army of which far outnumbered his own, expressed 
some anxiety as to the success of the expedition. 
To reanimate the courage of his nephew, the Prophet 
put his own turban on the head of Ali, and pressed 
his hands on his breast, saying, “ O Allah, purify 
his tongue, strengthen his heart, and direct his 
mind ! ” Religious tradition has exaggerated the 
importance of these words until they have come to 
be considered the source from which the exorcising 

1 The smallpox is similarly designated by the Greeks 
“ the Blessing/ 1 and by the Dyaks of Borneo " the Chief/' 
The Greeks have many similar exorcisms. See Polites, 

At 'A (rdeveiai Kara roDs fxvBovs rod ‘EAAtivikov Aaov t in the AeA rlov 

T7js *1 orropiKrjs Ka\ ’ zOvoAoyiKTjs ‘Ercuptcis Vol. I. One of these has 
been given in my Greek Folk-poesy , Vol. II. 



140 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Sheikhs derive the virtue and efficacy of their spiritual 
remedies. 

Cabalistic talismans prepared by Dervishes 
are also in great request as preventives against, as 
well as cures for, real and imaginary calamities, and 
are constantly worn attached to the head-dress, or 
hung round the neck. The efficacy of the scrolls 
just described, which are called by the various 
names of nushka, yafta , and hamnta'il, can only be 
relied upon, according to the Sheikhs who prescribe 
them, when administered by their own hands. But 
whatever the success of these remedies may be in 
individual cases, nothing can shake popular belief 
in their general efficacy. If the patient is not bene¬ 
fited by them, the fault naturally lies in his want 
of faith, or in the neglect of some other condition. 
The holy man, in any case, receives an honorarium 
for his services, either in coin or in kind; but if a 
speedy cure is the result of his ministrations, his 
reward will be large in proportion. 

The Dervishes, in common with all Orientals, 
attach great sacredness to the thirty-four letters of 
the Arabic Alphabet, and assign to each a numerical 
value. Of this mode of thinking we have a familiar 
illustration in the Apocalyptic puzzle of the name 
of the seven-headed beast which “is the number 
of a man ; and his number is six hundred and three 
score and six,” 1 a puzzle of which the true solution 
has been shown to be N epwv K alaap, the value of 
which letters, transcribed in Hebrew, is 666. Most 

1 Rev.’xiii, 18. 


SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM 


141 


persistent, too, have been the superstitious notions 
with regard to numbers. We find that in 1666, the 
Jews, not only in the East, but in many parts of 
Europe, were so confident of the appearance of the 
Messiah that the Jewish imposter, Shabathai Shevi, 
found himself surrounded by disciples in every town 
in which he announced his Messiahship. And that, 
even in England at the present day, belief in the 
“ magic of figures ” is not extinct is evident from a 
paragraph which appeared in a London newspaper 
at the beginning of 1888, recording the eventful 
character to this country of former years whose three 
final figures were alike, and suggesting that the 
same being the fact in 1888 “ is itself portentous.” 1 
The numerical values of the Arabic alphabet are 
made use of to draw up a class of talismans of a 
mystical and cabalistic character by means of what 
the Dervishes call the “ Science of Calculation.” 
Chronograms are written according to the same 
system, and in many of the inscriptions on public 
edifices, the last line, though written in the same 
character as the rest, and expressing in connection 
with them some poetical idea, will be found, on 
calculation, to give also the date of its composition. 
Eminent Dervishes were often commanded by the 
early Sultans to compose such inscriptions. as 
“ talismans ” for the gateways of conquered towns, or 
newly-erected public buildings. Hadji Bektash is 
said to have composed many of these inscriptions, 
and, very curiously, the letters forming his name 
1 Pall Mall Gazette , Jan. 5, 1888. 


142 MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 

give at the same time the date of the foundation of 
his Order. 

Talismanic charms are also often composed, 
among other methods, of cabalistic calculations 
based on the numerical value of the letters com¬ 
posing the name of the person interested. In a 
divination for the purpose of fortune-telling, these 
values are multiplied and divided, and their cubes 
and squares added and subtracted according to 
some conventional formula, to obtain a result, odd 
or even. If even, it is considered lucky; if odd, the 
reverse. 

The idea of the sacred and mysterious character 
of letters has also given rise to a belief that each 
one has its special attendant Djin appointed by 
Allah to wait upon it, and that these Djins may be 
invoked either severally or collectively. In order 
to secure the invisible presence of these “ Slaves of 
the Letter,” the calculations must be drawn up on 
certain days and hours, and at certain periods of 
the moon and positions of the stars. Such caba¬ 
listic figures are also frequently engraved on stones 
brought from the holy cities of Mekka, Medina, or 
Damascus, or from the neighbourhood of the tombs 
of holy men such as Hadji Bektash, or Hadji Bairam. 
Sometimes, however, these amulets are inscribed 
with a verse from the Koran, or an invocation 
addressed to the Prophet or the Khalif Ali. When 
a charm is concocted for the purpose of inspiring 
someone with the tender passion, the Djins invoked 
by it are believed to meet in council in order to 



A WANDERING DERVISH 
























SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM 


143 


devise a series of influences which will compel the 
person aimed at to obey them. The only antidote 
against such a charm is to draw up one that will 
ensure another assembly of Djins who will either 
overcome the first, or compel them to agree to a 
compromise, and so release the victim from their 
influence. Some of the talismans purchased from 
these Dervish magicians are credited with the power 
of procuring the visits of beneficent Djins who cure 
the suffering in body, ease the troubled in mind, and 
grant the desires of the person invoking their aid. 
Other charms are believed to influence dreams 
when placed under the pillow of one asleep. 

The four elements are also credited with the 
possession of twenty-eight letters having numerical 
values ranging from one to a thousand. They are 
divided into four classes of seven each, and to each 
class is attributed a “ temperament ” according to 
the nature of the element its letters represent. To 
the letters representing water is given the predomi¬ 
nance over all the others, as, in accordance With the 
Mohammedan account of the creation, water was 
the original element, and from it the other three 
were created. 1 Calculations are made to discover 
which of the four elements exists in too large a 
proportion in the system of a suffering person ; and 
when this has been discovered, a charm ( nushka) 
is drawn up, which, swallowed or worn next to 
the skin, will enable the patient to get rid of the 
superabundant element. 

1 Sales’ Koran . Chap, xli, p. 356, n. 


144 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


The Dervishes are also often had recourse to for 
the recovery of lost or stolen property. Sheikh Ali, 
the head of the Bektashi fraternity at Salonica 
before mentioned, 1 enjoyed a great reputation for 
success in this particular line of his profession. His 
mode of procedure was to ascertain the names of 
all the persons who had visited a house where any 
such loss had been sustained and visit each in turn. 
While gossiping about the event he would let drop 
a hint that the guilty person would be made the 
object of some magical charm if he did not at once 
restore the property to its owner; and, superstitious 
fear getting the better of cupidity, the lost article 
would usually be recovered as mysteriously as it 
had disappeared. The skill of this Dervish as an 
interpreter of dreams was also said to rival that of 
a famous Turkish witch in the city. I happened on 
the occasion of one of his visits to have had my sleep 
disturbed on the previous night by a dream of 
green snakes, and took the opportunity of asking 
for his explanation of it. Divining, no doubt, that 
I was not of a credulous or superstitious turn of 
mind, he merely replied, with a shrug of the shoulders 
and a graceful gesture of the hands, “ Eyei olsoun! " 
(May it be good). 

Dervishes figure not infrequently in Oriental 
folk-tales, both Moslem and Christian. Everyone is 
acquainted with the “ One-eyed Kalender ” of the 
Thousand Nights and a Night, though few, perhaps, 
recognise in the bearer of that appellation a wandering 

1 Above, p. 40. 


SURVIVALS OF PAGANISM 


145 


Dervish. In Greek folk-tale. Dervishes are often 
credited with the possession of magical objects such 
as cups that are instantly filled with whatever the 
owner may desire; knives that slay man or beast 
at his command ; reed-flutes, the sound of which 
brings the dead to life ; turbans of invisibility, etc., 
etc. 1 Stories are also current of secret hoards of 
wealth wrested by Dervish Sheikhs, deeply versed in 
magic, from the guardianship of Djins who had 
possessed them from time immemorial in their 
subterranean palaces. 

1 Compare, for instance, Greek Folk-poesy , “ The Story 
of the Soothsayer,” Vol. II, p. 230. 


CHAPTER X 

THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 

“ A Saint is aware of every thought of the King’s heart, 
and of every secret on earth or in heaven ."—Saying of 
Jelal6-’d-D!n. 

As mentioned in previous chapters, the mental and 
physical condition necessary for the manifestation 
of their abnormal powers is termed by the Dervishes 
Hal, a word simply signifying “ state.” There 
appear, however, to be two distinct descriptions 
of Hal, induced by methods of a totally opposite 
character, and resulting in powers which differ in 
a corresponding degree. 

The first appears to be of a merely temporary 
nature, and is found only among certain Orders 
such as the Rufa’i (“ Howling Dervishes ”) during 
their religious exercises performed collectively in 
the hall of their Tekkeh. As has been seen in the 
chapter on the “ Religious Exercises,” the devotees, 
by a contagious emulation, work themselves and 
each other into an abnormal state of agitation, both 
mental and physical, during which they inflict upon 
themselves injuries which, under ordinary condi¬ 
tions, would be dangerous, if not fatal, but which, 
when inflicted while they are in this strange state 
of excitement, are, in many cases, not even followed 
by the loss of a drop of blood, and are mysteriously 
and speedily healed by the breath and spittle of 

146 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


147 


the Sheikh. That mental states are contagious we 
have, I think, abundant evidence in cases of panic, 
when persons, without having the faintest idea of 
the cause, will excitedly join in the general rush ; 
and also in so-called Christian “ Revivals ”—instances 
of which are, perhaps, more common in America 
than elsewhere, and especially among the excit¬ 
able negro population, when, during an enthusiastic 
“ camp meeting,” many persons become perfectly 
frenzied with religious excitement. 1 

The dance ( Devr ) of the Mevlevi Dervishes also 
produces a species of Hal. It would indeed be 
difficult to account otherwise for the ability of 
some twenty men and youths to spin round with 
closed eyes and outstretched arms within a limited 
circle for the space of from ten to fifteen minutes 
without either coming into collision with each other, 
or showing any signs of giddiness—a scarcely 
possible feat under ordinary conditions. 

The second description of Hal, which appears to 
be permanent, or, at least, assumable at will, is 
attained only by those Dervishes who, through long 
and fervent contemplation of the Deity, have 
arrived at the Fourth, or highest degree, that of 
“ Union with Allah.” Sheikhs and Dervishes of 
superior grade, belonging to all Orders, whether 

1 A curious illustration of this occurred a few years ago 
in Ottawa, where a series of revivalist services resulted, 
according to the Montreal Star, in the “conversion” of 
the Premier of the Dominion and his lady, though his 
name “ has so long been the synonym of iniquity in many 
worthy minds.” 


148 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Vocative or Contemplative, are equally credited 
with ability to acquire this degree of sanctity ; and 
on attaining it they become endowed with various 
spiritual and superhuman powers. Among these 
may be named what is termed the “ Power of the 
Will,” thought-reading, the gift of prophecy, 
knowledge of what is happening afar off, and power 
to influence the event, as also ability to appear in 
person at great distances for the help of friends or the 
confusion of enemies, and miracle-working generally. 
These wonderful gifts can, it is believed, be trans¬ 
mitted by a Sheikh, with his mantle of office, to the 
disciple who shall prove himself by his rapid advance 
on the Mystic Path to be a worthy recipient of them, 
even as Elijah bestowed his mantle on Elisha and 
endowed him with his own miraculous powers. 
Instances of the exercise of the Power of the Will are 
to be found in the biography of every Dervish of 
renown. In some cases the subject is conscious of 
the influence under which he is acting, in others he 
is quite unaware of it, as in the following incident 
related by the learned Sufi, Mohammed BahS-’d-Din, 
of his spiritual Master :— 

“ In my youth I was ever with Our Lord (Mevl&na) 
Sa’ed ed Din of Kashgar at Hereed. It happened 
one day, as we were walking out together, that we 
came upon a number of the people of the place 
who were engaged in the exercise of wrestling. We 
agreed together to aid one of the wrestlers so that 
he might throw his opponent, and afterwards to 
change our design in favour of the discomfited one. 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


149 


So we stopped as if to look on, and as we looked, 
gave the full influence of our united wills to one 
individual, and he was immediately able to vanquish 
the other. Each person we chose in turn vanquished 
his opponent, and the power of our wills was thus 
clearly manifested.” 1 

This Sheikh also took an active part in the wars 
of his time between the Sultans of Bokhara and 
Samarcand; and by means of his wonderful powers 
is held to have greatly influenced their history. 
The monarch who took the precaution of securing 
his goodwill was invariably victorious ; while those 
who disdained his assistance met with loss and 
disaster ; and many persons who had wronged the 
Sheikh or his friends in the troubled times in which 
he lived felt the weight of his spiritual displeasure. 
Some even fell sick and died, or recovered only after 
making full confession and restitution, and obtaining 
his pardon and intercession with Allah on their 
behalf. It was said that he could hold converse 
with his disciples and friends at a great distance, 
and their appeals to him were always heard and 
answered. 

Over the minds of his followers Sheikh Sa’ed-’d- 
Dln is said to have exercised a peculiar power. He 
could influence them in such a way as to throw 
them at will into a species of trance during which 
they could remember no single event of their past 
lives, nor anything they had previously learnt; and 
in this state they would remain until their Master 

1 J. P. Brown, The Dervishes . 

ii—(2119) 


150 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


chose to restore to them the possession of their 
ordinary faculties. This Power of the Will would 
appear to be but a kind of mesmeric influence, 
intensified, perhaps, by the complete mental sub¬ 
ordination of a disciple to his spiritual guide. " Let 
your Murshid be always present to your mind, what¬ 
ever you are doing or saying,” is a primary obliga¬ 
tion. And when we consider that, in addition 
to this state of constant mental subjection, the 
body of the Murid is enfeebled by fasting and his 
mind fatigued by long vigils and protracted devo¬ 
tions, while his imagination is at the same time 
fully impressed with the belief that his Superior is 
really in possession of such powers, it is not difficult 
to understand that a remarkable ascendancy can 
be obtained by a Sheikh over his disciples. Nothing 
indeed could be better adapted to induce suscepti¬ 
bility to hypnotic influences than the discipline to 
which a Dervish is subjected during his novitiate. 
And having felt in his own person the potency of 
the spell of his Murshid, he will easily be led to 
credit him with the faculty of similarly influencing 
others. 

Not individuals only, however, but crowds have 
been known to be affected in this way by eminent 
Dervishes ; and according to Moslem legend, even 
opposing armies have been caused to desist from 
hostilities, completely subdued by the pacificatory 
spell thrown over them by some “ Man of Peace,” 
who has also compelled their leaders to sign treaties 
drawn up by himself. The writings of the Sufis 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


151 


teem with traditions and anecdotes recording the 
marvellous spiritual attainments of those Higher 
Mystics, and of the resulting abnormal powers 
exercised by them. Some of these biographies have 
been translated into European languages, but of 
others fragments only are available. 

Many strange stories are related of Abdul Kadr 
of Ghilan, already mentioned as the founder of 
the Kadiri Order. The poet Sadi records in his 
“ Gulistan ” that when visiting the sanctuary of 
the Ka’aba, the great Sheikh laid his face on the 
pebbled pavement and prayed : “ 0 Lord ! pardon 
me ; but if I am deserving of punishment, raise 
me up at the resurrection blind, that I may not be 
ashamed in the sight of the righteous.” And 
Sir John Malcolm gives the following legend, 
translated by him from a Persian MS., concerning 
this famous Sheikh: "His mother declared that 
when he was at the breast, he never tasted milk 
(? from sunrise to sunset) during the holy month 
of Ramazan ; and in one of his works he gives this 
account of himself: ‘ The day before the feast of 
Araf, I went out into the fields and laid hold of the 
tail of a cow, which turned round and exclaimed, 
“ 0 Abdul Kadr, am I not that which thou hast 
created me ? ” I returned home and mounted to 
the terrace of my house : I saw all the pilgrims 
standing at the mountain of Arafut at Mekka. I 
went and told my mother that I must dedicate 
myself to God : I wished to proceed to Bagdad to 
obtain knowledge. I informed her of what I had 


152 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


seen, and she wept. Then, taking out eighty deenars, 
she told me that, as I had a brother, half of that 
was all my inheritance. She made me swear when 
she gave it to me, never to tell a lie ; and then 
bade me farewell, exclaiming, “ Go, my son, I give 
thee to God. We shall not meet again until the 
Day of Judgment! ” I went on well till I came to 
Hamadan, when our Kaffilah (caravan) was plundered 
by forty horsemen. One fellow asked me what I had 
got. “ Forty deenars ,” I. said, " are sewed under my 
garment.” The fellow laughed, thinking, no doubt, 
I was joking him. “What have you got?” asked 
another. I gave him the same answer. When 
they were dividing the spoil, I was called to an 
eminence where their chief stood. “ What property 
have you, my little fellow ? ” said he. “ I have 
told two of your people already,” I replied, “ that 
I have forty deenars sewed up carefully in my 
clothes.” He desired them to be ripped open, and 
found my money. “ And how came you,” he asked 
with surprise, “ to declare so openly what has been 
so carefully hidden ? ” “ Because,” I replied, “ I will 
not be false to my mother whom I have promised 
that I will never tell a lie.” “ Child,” said the 
robber, “ hast thou such a sense of thy duty to thy 
mother at thy years ; and am I insensible, at my 
age, of the duty I owe my God ? Give me thy hand, 
innocent boy,” he continued, “ that I may swear 
repentance on it.” He did so. His followers were 
all alike touched with the scene. “ Thou hast been 
our leader in guilt,” said they to the chief, “ be the 



CITY GATE CALLED THE MEVLEVI-HANE, STAMBOUI. 



































THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


153 


same in the path of virtue,” and instantly at his 
order they made restitution of their spoil, and vowed 
repentance on my hand.’ ” 1 

Abdul Kadr arrived in Bagdad about 1085, and, 
consequently, when this event happened, he must 
have been about seventeen years of age. He does 
not, however, appear to have begun his public 
lectures until he had reached his fiftieth year. Not 
only Sufi writers, but eminent Sunni, or orthodox 
Moslem authorities, record many of his miracles. 
God granted all his requests, and the Divine venge¬ 
ance fell on all those who wronged him. He himself 
gives the following account of the fast he underwent 
during his probation :— 

" I was eleven years in a tower, and when there 
I vowed to God that I would neither eat nor drink 
until some one compelled me to do so. I maintained 
my fast for forty days, after which a person brought 
me a little meat, put it before me, and went away. 
My life was nearly springing out of me at the sight 
of the victuals, but I refrained; and I heard a 
voice from within me call out, ‘ I am hungry, I am 
hungry! ’ At that moment Sheikh Abu Seyyid 
Mukzoomx (a celebrated Sufi) passed, and, hearing 
the voice, exclaimed, ‘ What is that ? ’ ‘ It is my 

mortal part,’ I replied, ‘ but the soul is yet firm, 
and awaits the result.’ ' Come to my house,’ he 
said, and went away. I resolved, however, to fulfil 
my vow, and remained where I was ; but Elias 2 

1 Hist, of Persia, Vol. II, p. 286, n. 

2 See above, p. 22. 


154 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


came and told me to follow the Seyyid, whom I 
found at his door awaiting me. ‘ You would not 
comply with my wish/ said he, ‘ until it was enforced 
by Elias.’ After this he gave me meat and drink 
in plenty, and then invested me with a khirka 
(mantle) and I became his confirmed friend and 
companion.” 1 

Many and wonderful are the legends which have 
gathered round the name of the great mystic poet, 
Jelalu-’d-DIn. The Acts of the Adepts, compiled 
by Eflaki in the fourteenth century, contains 
some hundreds of anecdotes concerning Jelal, his 
family, friends, and followers, most of which are 
narratives of supernatural actions performed by 
living or dead Dervishes, male or female, or of some 
remarkable event connected with them. 

Baha-’d-DIn Veled, the father of Jelalu-'d-DIn, 
was hardly less famous among the Mystics of the 
thirteenth century than was his illustrious son ; and 
besides being closely related to the reigning dynasty 
of Khorassan, was able to trace his descent to Abu 
Bekr, the “ Commander of the Faithful,” and uncle 
of the Prophet. In virtue of his learning and mystic 
piety, Baha-’d-DIn was held in such high estimation 
by the inhabitants of the capital, Balkh, as to 
excite the jealous animosity of the Sultan’s courtiers, 
who accused him of aspiring to the throne. He 
accordingly quitted the city with a following of 
about forty souls, after delivering in the great 
mosque a public address in which he foretold the 

1 Malcolm, Hist, of Persia, Vol. II, p. 286, n. 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


155 


advent of the Moguls and the subversion of the 
country. Arrived at Bagdad, he was received with 
great honour by the Khalif, but refused the costly 
gifts he would have bestowed upon him. Preaching 
in the mosque, he dared to reprove the monarch to 
his face for his evil course of life, and foretold that 
he would be slain by the Moguls under circumstances 
of great ignominy and cruelty. During Baha-'d- 
Din’s sojourn at Bagdad news came of the conquest 
of Balkh; he again set out on his travels, and, after 
various wanderings, was finally invited to Konieh 
by the Seljuk Sultan, Ala-’d-DIn, who had made 
that city his capital. Here Baha-’d-Dln was warmly 
welcomed and liberally entertained by this prince, 
under whose auspices he established a college, and 
from whom he received the honourable title of 
“ Sultan of Learned Men ” {Sultan ’l-Ulema). 

Numerous stories are related of the wonderful 
spiritual gifts possessed by this illustrious Teacher, 
and of the great influence he exercised over others, 
not only during his lifetime, but also after death. 
One of these relates that when Sultan Ala'u-’d-Din 
had fortified Konieh, he invited Baha Veled to 
mount to the terraced roof of the palace, thence to 
survey the walls and towers. After this inspection 
Baha remarked to the Sultan, “ Against torrents, 
and against the horsemen of the enemy, thou hast 
raised a goodly defence. But what protection hast 
thou built against those unseen arrows, the sighs 
and moans of the oppressed, which overleap a 
thousand walls and sweep whole worlds to 


156 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


destruction ? Go to, now! strive to acquire the 
blessings of thy subjects. These are a stronghold 
compared to which the walls and turrets of the 
strongest castles are as nothing.” 1 

Another anecdote says that shortly after the 
death of Baha-’d-DIn, the Sultan of Kharism, 
Jelalu-’d-Din Shah, arrived on the borders of Asia 
Minor with a great army. On hearing this alarming 
news, the Sultan of Konieh went to pray at the 
tomb of the deceased Sheikh, and then prepared to 
meet the enemy who were encamped in the neigh¬ 
bourhood of Erzerum. Disguising himself, he set 
out with a few followers to reconnoitre, and actually 
entered the enemy’s camp. At midnight the sainted 
Sheikh appeared to him in a dream and warned him 
to fly. The Sultan awoke, but attaching no import¬ 
ance to the warning, went to sleep again. The 
Saint now appeared a second time. Ala-’d-DIn saw 
himself seated on his throne, and the Saint 
approaching him smote him on the breast with his 
staff, saying angrily, " Why sleepest thou ? Arise ! ” 
So the Sultan arose, got together his people and 
horses, and stole from the camp. Not long after¬ 
wards the two armies engaged; the Sultan of 
Konieh came off victorious ; and in all subsequent 
difficulties had recourse to the powerful aid of 
the Saint whom he had in life honoured and 
befriended. 

J elalu-’d-Din, who had studied under the most 
eminent teachers of Aleppo and Damascus, succeeded 

1 Acts of the Adepts, Redhouse’s translation, p. 10. 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


157 


his father as Director of the College at Konieh, and 
also in the title of “ Sultan of Learned Men.” The 
high reputation for piety and learning that the 
young scholar had already acquired gained for him 
the devotion of his father’s disciples ; and in addition 
to these he soon gathered around him four hundred 
enthusiastic students by whom he was designated 
Mevlana (Our Lord), a title from which, as above 
mentioned, the Order founded by him took its name. 

Eflaki relates the following incident as illustrative 
of the close friendship and devotion to each other 
of these Sufi Saints. An eminent Sheikh, the Seyyid 
Burha-nu-’d Din 1 had been a pupil of B5.ha-’d-D!n 
during his residence at Balkh. On his master’s 
departure from that city, the Seyyid went to Termiz, 
and, after living some time there as a recluse, he 
began to lecture publicly. During one of his dis¬ 
courses he suddenly stopped and cried out in a 
tone of anguish, accompanied by floods of tears : 
" Alas ! my Master has passed away from this 
Tabernacle of Dust to the Abode of Sincerity ! ” 
His words and the time of their utterance were 
noted down, and were subsequently found to 
correspond exactly with the moment of Baha 
Veled’s death. When the disciples at Termiz had 
mourned forty days for the great Teacher, the Seyyid 
said to them, “ The son of my master, Jelalu-’d-Din 
Mohammed, is left alone and is wishing to see me. 

1 This Saint, says Eflaki, was popularly known as 
Sirr-Dan, “The Confidant, ” a title signifying “one 
acquainted with secrets or mysteries.” 


158 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


I must go to the land of Rum, and deliver over to 
him the trust which my Teacher confided to my 
safe keeping.” 

On arriving at Konieh, the Seyyid was so much 
delighted with the discourse of Jelal, that he kissed 
the soles of his feet, exclaiming, “ A hundred fold 
hast thou surpassed thy father in all knowledge of 
the Humanities ; but he was versed also in that 
spiritual knowledge which is attained only through 
silent contemplation and through ecstasy. From 
this day forward my aim shall be to instruct thee in 
that knowledge—the knowledge possessed by the 
Prophets and Saints and which we term The Science 
of Divine Intuition. This is the science spoken of 
by Allah : ‘ We have taught him a science from 
within Us.’ 1 This knowledge did I acquire from 
my Teacher ; do thou receive it from me, and thus 
become the heir of thy father in things spiritual as 
well as in things temporal.” Jelal took the Seyyid 
to his College, and for nine years was his pupil in 
mystic lore. 2 

The following story is told of Jelal’s student 
days. While he was pursuing his studies at Aleppo, 
the superior treatment he received from the pro¬ 
fessor roused the jealousy of some of his fellow 
students, who complained to the governor that 
Jelal was immoral, as he was in the habit of quitting 
his cell at midnight for some unknown purpose. 
The governor resolved to see and judge for himself ; 

1 Koran xviii, 64. 

2 Acts of the Adepts, pp. 14-15. 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 159 

he therefore hid himself in the college porter’s 
lodge. 

At midnight Jelal came forth, and went straight 
to the locked gate of the college, watched by the 
governor. The gate flew open ; and Jelal, followed 
at a distance by the governor, went through the 
streets to the locked city gate. This, too, opened 
of itself; and again both passed through. They 
went on, and came to the tomb of Abraham 
(at Hebron, about 350 miles distant). There a 
domed edifice was seen, filled with a large company 
of forms in green raiment, who came forth to meet 
Jelal, and conducted him into the building. The 
governor hereupon lost his senses through fright, 
and did not recover until after the sun had risen. 
He could now see neither edifice nor human being. 
He wandered about on a trackless waste for three 
days and nights, and at length sank under his 
sufferings. 

Meanwhile the porter of the college had given 
intelligence of the governor’s pursuit after Jelal. 
When his officers found that he did not return, they 
sent a company of soldiers to seek him. These, on 
the second day, were met by Jelal, who told them 
where they would find their master. Late on the 
next day they came up with the governor, found 
him nearly dead, and brought him home. This 
dignitary was so impressed by the event that he 
became a sincere admirer and devoted disciple of 
Jelal. 1 

1 Acts of the Adepts, p. 21. 


160 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


The two following anecdotes also illustrate the 
faculty ascribed to the higher Mystics of trans¬ 
porting themselves at will to great distances. 

A certain rich merchant of Konieh, a disciple, as 
was also his wife, of Jelal, went to Mekkaone year 
for the pilgrimage. On the day when the victims 
are slaughtered, 1 the lady had a dish of sweetmeat 
prepared, and sent some of it in a china bowl to 
Jelal, to be eaten at dinner. 2 She made the request 
that, when he partook of the food, he would favour 
her absent husband with his remembrance, his 
prayers, and his blessing. Jelal invited his disciples 
to the feast, and all ate of the lady’s sweetmeat to 
repletion. But the bowl still remained full. Jelal 
then said, “ Oh, he, too, must partake of it.” He 
took the bowl, ascended to the terraced roof of the 
college with it, returning immediately empty handed. 
His friends asked him what he had done with the 
bowl and the food. “ I have handed them,” said 
Jelal, “ to the lady’s husband, whose property they 
are.” The company were puzzled by his words 
and conduct. In due course of time, when the 
pilgrims returned to Konieh, out of the baggage of 
the merchant the china bowl was produced, and 
sent in to the astonished lady, who enquired of her 
husband how he had become possessed of that 
identical dish. He replied, “ Ah ! I am also at a 
loss to know how it happened. But on the eve of 

1 The Qurban Bairam, or annual sacrifice, which takes 
place while the pilgrims are at Mekka. 

2 This is a common custom in the East. 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


161 


the slaughter of the victims, I was seated in my 
tent, at Arafat, with a company of other pilgrims, 
when an arm was projected into the tent, and placed 
this dish before me, filled with sweetmeat. I sent 
out servants to see who had brought it to me, but 
no one was found.” 1 

A company of pilgrims arrived one year at 
Konieh on the return journey from Mekka, and after 
visiting all the famous men of the city they were 
conducted to Jelal’s College. On seeing him seated 
there, they all exclaimed and fainted away. When 
they were recovered, Jelcil began to offer excuses, 
saying to them, “ I fear you have been deceived, 
either by an imposter, or by some person resembling 
me in feature.” The pilgrims, however, one and 
all objected. " Why talks he thus ? ” they said to 
one another. " Why strive to make us doubt our 
eyes ? By the God of heaven and earth, he was 
with us in person, habited in the very dress he now 
wears, when we assumed the pilgrim garb at Mekka. 
He perfoimed with us all the ceremonies of the 
pilgrimage there, and at Arafat. He visited with 
us the tomb of the Prophet at Medina, though he 
never once ate or drank with us.” 2 

For further examples of the marvellous acts of 
Jelalu-’d-DIn as recorded by Eflaki, I must refer 
the curious reader to the work itself. 

Perhaps the most famous among the Saints of 
the Turkish Conquest was Hadji Bektash—“ Bek- 
tash the Pilgrim ”—before mentioned. He was a man 

1 Acts of the Adepts, p. 62. 2 Ibid., p. 60. 


162 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


of noble birth and great learning, his father having 
been the Seyyid Ibrahim Mokerrem of Khorassan. 
While yet a boy, he is said to have been distinguished 
for his devotion, never mixing with companions of 
his own age ; and evinced in early youth an aver¬ 
sion to all worldly pursuits. His education was 
entrusted to the Sage, Lokman, one of the disciples 
of Achmet Youssouf, the Chief of the Sheikhs of 
Turkestan, and by him Hadji Bektash was “ in¬ 
structed in all the exoteric and esoteric sciences.” 
Lokman bestowed on this favourite pupil the 
mantle of the Imam Jafer, which he had himself 
received from Achmet Youssouf. According to his 
biographers, Hadji Bektash declined all the digni¬ 
ties offered him by his father, " who died a prince 
in Khorassan,” and devoted himself to a life of 
seclusion. Forty years were passed by this saintly 
man in study, fasting, and prayer, until he at length 
arrived at such a degree of perfection that his soul 
during sleep, left his body and entered the World 
of Spirits, and he became “ filled with Mystic 
Science and Divine Knowledge.” In obedience to 
the spiritually received command of Achmet 
Youssouf he went with Mohammed Bokhara and 
seven hundred Dervishes and other pious men and 
saints into Asia Minor in the train of the conquering 
Orchan. 

It appears to be a point of honour with a Dervish 
to maintain that the Order of which he is a member 
is the most important of all the religious sects of 
Islam, and that its Founder is the greatest and 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


163 


holiest of all Pirs. The legends related of Hadji 
Bektash by his followers, however, go far to establish 
his supremacy over all rival Saints. Of these the 
following may serve as a specimen. 

Hadji Bektash was one day sitting with some of 
his followers on a wall, when they saw a rival 
Dervish advancing towards them, mounted on a 
roaring lion, and holding in his hand as a whip, a 
writhing serpent with which he chastised his steed. 
The disciples, who had never before beheld such a 
sight, marvelled greatly ; but their Sheikh calmly 
observed, “ My brethren, there is little merit in 
being able to ride upon a lion ; I will show you a 
more wonderful thing. This wall on which we are 
sitting shall advance and bar the further progress 
of yon wild beast and his rider.” The Dervishes 
immediately found that they were being carried 
forward by the wall towards the lion, whose rider 
was compelled to acknowledge the superior spiritual 
rank of Hadji Bektash. Evliya Effendi relates in 
his “ Travels ” that this wall, which was still in his 
day of large proportions, and even the identical 
spot on which the Saint was seated when he per¬ 
formed the miracle, was pointed out to him at 
Sari-beg in Asia Minor. 

Michelet has remarked, with reference to the 
legends which have collected round the Saints of 
the Christian Calendar, that “ the monks wrote 
them, but the people were their authors .” 1 And 

1 “ Les Moines les ecrivirent, mais le peuple les faisait.” 
La Sorciire, p. 15. 


164 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


the same may be said of most of the extravagant 
stories related of Dervish Saints. In the following 
story, for instance, the Moslem Saint, Mohammed 
Bokhara, is made the hero of adventures evidently 
borrowed from a widespread Eastern folktale. 

This Mohammed Bokhara, also called Sari Saltik 
and Kilgra Sultan, was one of the fighting saints 
of the Ottoman conquest, and a favourite disciple 
of Hadji Bektash. After the conquest of Broussa 
by Sultan Orchan (1326), the Master bestowed on 
his disciple the insignia of the Order—a wooden 
sword, a sheepskin mat, a banner, drum, and horn— 
and despatched him on a mission to the Unbelievers. 
The Saint and his seventy followers spread their 
sheepskins on the sea and sailed away, “ with drums 
beating and banners flying, from Roumelia to the 
Crimea, from Muscovy to Poland.” At Dantzic, 
Sari Saltik had an interview with Saint Nikola the 
Patriarch, whom he slew. Then, adopting his name 
and dress, he, as the Patriarch, travelled about 
Europe for some years, during which time he con¬ 
verted many thousands to the faith of Islam. The 
King of the Dobrudja, after listening to the preaching 
of the Saint, desired of him a miracle in confirma¬ 
tion of his mission. There happened to be then 
in the Dobrudja a terrible seven-headed Dragon, 
and the King’s two daughters were doomed to be 
devoured by him. Sari Saltik agreed to slay the 
monster and deliver the princesses on condition that 
they became Moslems. 

Accompanied by his seventy Dervishes, beating 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


165 


their drums and waving their banners, he proceeded 
to the column to which the doomed maidens were 
bound, drew his wooden sword, and waited. The 
Dragon soon appeared, and the Saint, addressing 
him with the passage from the Koran beginning 
“ Greetings to Noah in Both Worlds,” cut off three 
of his heads so that he fled away with the remaining 
four. The Dervish pursued him to his den, at the 
entrance to which he cut off the remaining heads, 
and then followed the monster into the cave, where 
a frightful struggle took place. The Dragon pressed 
the Saint so hard against the rock that the impres¬ 
sion of his hands and feet remained visible. At 
last Sari Saltik slew the monster, and, with his 
bloody breast and bloody sword, he led the maidens 
back to their father, the king. 

In the meantime, however, a “ cursed (Christian) 
monk ” who had shown Saltik the way to the 
column, had picked up the three tongues and the 
ears of the three heads first cut off and carried them 
to the king, boasting that he had killed the Dragon. 
The princesses bore out the testimony of the Saint; 
but the monk persisting in his statement, Sari Saltik 
proposed as a test that they should be both broiled 
together in a cauldron. The monk did not approve 
of this trial by ordeal; but, by command of the 
King, he was obliged to undergo it. Sari Saltik 
was tied up by his Dervishes, and the monk by 
his companions, and both were put into a large 
cauldron heated by an immense fire. It was at 
this hour that Hadji Bektash, who was then at 

12—(2119) 


166 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Kir Shehir in Asia Minor, swept with a handkerchief 
a dripping rock, exclaiming, “ My Saltik Mohammed 
is now in great distress, may Allah assist him ! ” 
Ever since that day, salt, instead of, as before, 
fresh water, has dripped from that rock, and from 
it the kind of salt called “ Hadji Bektash ” is pro¬ 
duced. The cauldron being opened, Sari Saltik was 
found perspiring and ejaculating “ O All Vivifying ! 
(Yd Hayi )\ 1 but of the monk nothing was left 
but blackened cinders and burnt bones. The King 
of the Dobrudja, moved by this miracle, instantly, 
together with seven thousand of his subjects, em¬ 
braced the faith of Islam. He also sent ambas¬ 
sadors to Sultan Orchan, who bestowed upon him 
the title of Kadi, a horse-tail standard, a banner, and 
the Moslem name of Ali Mukhtar. 

In the same year Sari Saltik made his will, wherein 
he commanded seven coffins to be made, because 
seven Kings were to contend for his body after 
death. And so it fell out. After his corpse had 
been washed and laid in one of the coffins, seven 
kings demanded the privilege of burying it. A 
coffin was given to all the seven, who were “ the 
Kings of Muscovy, Poland, Bohemia, Sweden, 
Adrianople, Moldavia, and the Dobrudja.” The 
last buried the coffin that fell to him in the Cave of 
the Dragon at Kilgra on the Black Sea, and built 
a Tekkeh close by, where the Saint’s wooden sword, 
drum, and banner were treasured as relics. 2 

1 One of the attributes of the Deity 

2 Narrative of Travels. 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


167 


Of the many Dervish saints whose turbes or 
mausoleums are to be found in that picturesque 
old capital of the Ottoman Sultans, Broussa, one 
of the most famous was Shemsu-’d-Dui Mohammed 
Ben Ali, a Seyyid, or descendant of the Prophet, 
who also bore the honourable title of Emir Sultan, 1 
bestowed on him on account of his learning. When 
performing his pilgrimage to the holy cities, the 
Sherifs, his fellow descendants, refused him the 
portion to which he was entitled by his descent. 
The Saint accordingly decided to refer the matter 
to the decision of the Prophet himself, and, going 
to his tomb accompanied by the other Seyyids, 
they heard a voice from within cry “ Health to 
thee, my son Mohammed Ben Ali ! go to Rum 2 
with the lamp ! ” Upon hearing this, the Sherifs 
threw themselves at Shemsu-’d-Din’s feet, and 
acknowledged their fault. He shortly afterwards 
set out for Anatolia, whereupon a lamp suspended 
from heaven became his guide on the way, and 
disappeared only when he entered the gates of 
Broussa. Emir Sultan accepted this as a sign that 
he was to take up his abode in this city, where he 
found awaiting him four hundred thousand dis¬ 
ciples. 3 For the inhabitants had seen the lamp 
hanging from heaven for three days, and knew by 
that wonder that they might expect the advent of a 

1 Referred to on p. 33. 2 See note, p. 16. 

3 This is evidently one of the characteristically Oriental 
exaggerations with which Evliya Effendi is frequently 
taxed by his translator. 


168 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Saint. Under his direction they all became Der¬ 
vishes. Sultan Bayazid not only walked on foot 
by his stirrup, but gave him his daughter Nutufer 
Hanum in marriage. When this Sultan had com¬ 
pleted the building of the Oulou Jami, 1 or “ Great 
Mosque,” he asked Emir Sultan if it were not 
a perfect mosque. “ Yes,” replied the Saint, “ it 
is a very elegant mosque, but some cups of wine 
for the refreshment of the pious are wanting in the 
middle.” The Sultan exclaimed with surprise, 
“ How would it be possible to stain the house of 
Allah with the liquor forbidden by the law ? ” 
“ Well,” replied the Saint, “ thou hast built a 
mosque, Bayazid, and findest it strange to put a 
cup of wine therein ; but thy body, which is a 
house of Allah more excellent than a talisman 
composed of the Divine Names, or the throne of 
Allah Himself—how is it that thou dost not fear 
to stain the purity of this godlike house with wine, 
day and night ? ” From that moment, adds the 
narrator, “ Bayazid repented, and left off drinking 
wine.” 

Among the number of holy men who favoured 
Evliya Effendi with their friendship, was the Sheikh 
Abdi fDedeh, who built the Mevlevi Monastery at 
Kassim Pasha, on the outskirts of the capital. 

1 Three Sultans took part in the building of this magnifi¬ 
cent mosque, Murad I, Bayazid I, and Mohammed I. The 
interior is divided by pillars into twenty-five halls, each 
roofed with a separate dome. It is, however, not this 
“ Great Mosquebut another that bears the name of 
u Bayazid Ilderim. ,, 


THE ACTS OF THE ADEPTS 


169 


According to this author, Sheikh Abdi was “ in 
mystic lore, a second Jelalu-’d-DIn. He knew by 
their names all those who came to the convent, 
though he had never seen them before. When he 
sang, “ he intoxicated all Dervishes.” Evliya 
Effendi also narrates that, as Sultan Murad was 
on one occasion returning from Broussa to Con¬ 
stantinople by sea, he was in danger of being drowned 
near Cape Bozbournou, when he “ saw at the ship’s 
head the Sheikh, who calmed the waves.” 

Of the Saints canonized in our own days I may 
mention a Sheikh of Cavalla, whose gift of prophecy 
had enabled him to predict the day and hour of 
his departure from the world. This holy man 
caused his tomb to be prepared in the hall of the 
Tekkeh; and, though apparently in his usual 
health, he, on the eve of the appointed day, an¬ 
nounced to his wife and his disciples that he must 
now take leave of them, as that day would be his last. 
These farewells taken, he calmly proceeded alone 
to the hall and lay down in the tomb that was to 
be his last resting-place. When, on the following 
morning, the disciples arrived at the Tekkeh, they 
found that their revered master had indeed, accord¬ 
ing to his prediction, breathed his last. The fame of 
his holy life and the circumstances of his death 
soon became widely known in the neighbourhood; 
the devout watchers did not fail to see supernatural 
lights hovering over his grave ; and before long 
miracles of healing were reported to have been 
performed at the shrine of the Sheikh of Cavalla. 


CHAPTER XI 

WOMEN MYSTICS 

“ Her Woman’s sex dims not the Sun’s effulgent ray ; 

Though Masculine the Moon, he lighteth not the day.” 1 

From the Arabic. 

It is characteristic of the high estimation in which 
women have always been held by the Sufis that the 
place of honour among the early mystics is by them 
assigned to a woman. This distinguished person was 
Rabia al Adawia, also called Umm al Khair {“ The 
Mother of Good,”) a native of Bfissora, who lived 
in the eighth century, and whose reputed grave on 
Mount Tor, to the east of Jerusalem, became, like 
those of the generality of Moslem saints, a place of 
pilgrimage. The words and actions of this Queen 
of Mystics have been recorded by many Oriental 
writers, 2 and contain a germ of Sufism, or kind of 
sentimental pantheism, which often found poetical 
or rhythmic expression. An eminent Sufi writer 
of the twelfth century, Ibn Khamis Al Juhani, 
relates in his works many anecdotes of Rabia’s 
sanctity and piety, some of which are quoted by 
Ibn Khallikan in his Biographical Dictionary. The 
following verse is attributed to her :— 

My heart I keep for Thy communion, Lord ! 

And those who seek me but my body find. 

My guests may with my body converse hold, 

But my Belov’d alone holds converse with my heart. 

1 In Arabic, as in German, the Moon is masculine and the 
Sun feminine. 

2 M. Dozy, however, attaches no historical value to the 
legends concerning Rabia. Essai, etc., p. 318-19. 

170 


WOMEN MYSTICS 


171 


It is related that on one occasion the celebrated 
Moslem theologians, Hassan of Bassora and Shakik 
of Balk, came to visit this pious lady when she was 
ill. The former greeted her in mystic fashion with 
the following couplet:— 

He in his faith cannot be all sincere. 

Who mourns the chastening of his Master dear. 

Sh&kik added, correcting his friend:— 

He in his faith cannot be all sincere, 

Who joys not, chastened by his Master dear. 

Rabia’s enthusiasm, however, went beyond that of 
her eminent and reverend guests, and she replied :— 

He in his faith cannot be all sincere. 

Who feels a smart when draws his Master near! 

Another eminent contemporary theologian, 
Sofyan ath Thauri, exclaimed one day in her 
presence, “ O what anguish is mine! ” Rabia 
reproved him, saying, “ Speak not a lie, but rather 
say, ‘ 0 how little anguish is mine!' If thou wert 
really in affliction thou couldst not sigh.” One 
of the Sufi brethren relates that in his prayers he 
was accustomed to invoke Rabia, who appeared to 
him in a vision, and said : “ Thy offerings were 
presented to us on trays of light, and covered with 
napkins of light.” She often said, “ If my good 
works appear to the world, I count them as 
nought,” and one of her counsels was : “ Hide thy 
good deeds as thou wouldst hide thy sins.” One of 
her biographers gives a story as related by Abda, a 
handmaid of this pious lady : “ Rabia used to pass 
the whole night in prayer, and at morning dawn 


172 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


she took a short sleep in her oratory till daylight; 
and I have heard her exclaim, springing from her 
couch as if in dread : ‘ 0 my soul! how long wilt 
thou sleep ? When wilt thou awake ? Soon thou 
shalt sleep to rise no more till the call shall summon 
thee on the Day of Resurrection ! ’ This was her 
constant custom till the day of her death. On its 
approach, she called me and said, ‘ O Abda ! in¬ 
form none of my death, and shroud me in this 
gown.’ This was a gown of hair-cloth which she 
wore when praying at the time when the eyes of 
others were closed in sleep. I shrouded her in that 
gown and in a woollen veil which she used to wear ; 
and about a year afterwards I saw her in a dream, 
clothed in a gown and veil of green silk, the like of 
which for beauty I never beheld. And I said, ‘ O 
Rabia ! what has become of the gown in which I 
shrouded thee, and of the woollen veil ? ’ To which 
she answered, ‘ By Allah ! it was taken off me, and 
I received in exchange what thou seest on me ; my 
shroud was folded up, a seal was put upon it, and 
it was taken up to the highest heaven, that by it 
my reward might be complete on the day of resur¬ 
rection.’ { It was for this,’ I observed, ‘ that 
thou didst work when in the world.’ ‘ And 
what is this,’ she rejoined, ‘ compared with what 
I have seen of Allah’s bounty to his Saints ? ’ I 
asked her in what state was Obaida (a holy woman 
who had predeceased her), and she replied, ‘ It 
cannot be described. By Allah ! She has surpassed 
us all, and reached the highest place in Paradise.’ 


WOMEN MYSTICS 


173 


‘ And how is that,’ said I, ‘ when all men con¬ 
sidered thee far, far above her ? ’ ‘ Because,’ she 

replied, ‘ when in the world she took no thought 
for the morrow, nor even for the coming night.’ ” 

In the Acts of the Adepts, and elsewhere, we also 
find records of many holy women, some of whom 
were honoured with the friendship of the poet- 
saint Jelalu-’d-DIn ; and not least eminent among 
them were his wife, Kira Khatun, and his daughter- 
in-law, Fatima. The latter had been taught to 
read and write by Jelal, who bestowed upon her 
the complimentary title of his “ Right Eye ” ; her 
sister he called his “ Left Eye ” ; and their mother, 
Latifa Khatun, “ the Personification of God’s grace.” 
“Fatima,” says the story, “was a Saint, and 
continually worked miracles. She fasted by day, 
and watched by night, tasting food only once in 
three days. She was very charitable to the poor, 
the orphans, and the widows, distributing to them 
food and raiment.” 

Kira Khatun was also a most saintly woman. 
She was Jelalu-’d-Din’s second wife, and survived 
him. When she, too, departed this life, and was 
about to be buried by the side of her husband, a 
strange incident occurred. As her corpse was being 
borne towards its last resting-place, the procession 
passed through one of the gates of the town 
(Konieh). Here the bearers found themselves 
arrested by some unseen power, so that they could 
not move hand or foot. This singular effect lasted 
for about half an hour. Her stepson, Sultan Veled, 


174 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


struck up a hymn and commenced a holy dance, 
after which the bearers recovered the use of their 
limbs and the interment was completed. That 
same night a holy man of the fraternity saw 
Kira Khatun in heaven by the side of her husband, 
and enquired of her the reason of the arrestation of 
the funeral. She informed him thus :— 

“ On the previous day a man and a woman had 
on that spot, been stoned to death for adultery. I 
took compassion on them, interceded for their for¬ 
giveness, and obtained for them admission to 
Paradise. My preoccupation on their behalf was 
the reason of the delay met with by the funeral 
procession.” 1 

According to EflSki, there lived at Konieh in 
the days of Jel51u-’d-Din, a saintly lady named 
Fakhru-’n-Nisa (“ The Glory of Women ”), who 
enjoyed the acquaintance of the holy men of the time, 

1 The Mesnevi, p. 119. This curious legend appears to 
illustrate the Moslem notion that the soul remains with the 
body until after burial, and that it is only then—except, 
perhaps, in the case of such saintly persons as Kira Khatun 
—that its ultimate destiny is decided. After the last rites 
have been performed by the relatives, the Imam is left 
alone by the grave in order, it is said, to prompt the 
deceased in his replies to the “ Questioners.” These are 
the two Angels, Mounkir and Nekir, who, according to 
Moslem belief, enter the grave with the dead in order to 
interrogate them concerning their faith. If the dead has 
been a devout Moslem, his reply will be “ My God is Allah ; 
my Prophet, Mohammed ; my religion, Islam ; and my 
Kibla, the Ka’aba.” If, however, he has been but an 
indifferent follower of the Prophet, he will not be able to 
remember this formula. 


WOMEN MYSTICS 


175 


all of whom were aware of her sanctity. Miracles were 
wrought by her in countless numbers. She con¬ 
stantly attended the meetings at Jelal’s house and 
received occasionally visits from him. Her friends 
suggested that she ought to go and perform the 
pilgrimage to Mekka ; but she would not decide 
upon so serious an undertaking without first con¬ 
sulting Jelal. Accordingly, she went to see him. 
As she entered his presence, before she spoke, he 
called out to her : “Oh most happy idea ! May 
thy journey be prosperous ! God willing, we shall 
be together.” She bowed, but said nothing. The 
disciples present were puzzled. “ That night she 
remained a guest at Jelal’s house, conversing with 
him till past midnight, when, according to his 
custom, he went to perform his devotions on the 
housetop. Presently he called to her to come up 
also, and when she did so, she saw the holy Ka’aba 
of Mekka revolving in the air above the head of 
Jelal. So overcome was Fakhru-’n-Nisa by this 
wondrous sight, that she sank down in a swoon. On 
recovering she came to the conclusion that it was 
not necessary for her to undertake the difficult 
and dangerous journey to the Holy City, as its 
chief attraction had been thus marvellously revealed 
to her.” 

In later centuries also it would appear that 
Societies of pious women have been from time to 
time affiliated with the Dervish Orders. These 
holy women are frequently mentioned in the 
biographies of Dervish Saints, either individually, 


176 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


or collectively by some such name as “ The Sisters 
of Rum,” alluded to in the writings of Hadji Bektash. 
Nor is such mystical devotion entirely unknown 
among Osmanli women at the present day. The 
widow of the Cavalla Sheikh above referred to, a 
woman of great intelligence, presided, after her 
husband’s death, over a society of female devotees 
who held their meetings at her residence. A British 
subject who had had business relations with the 
Sheikh in connection with the tobacco-growing 
industry of Cavalla and the neighbourhood, from 
which the revenues of the Tekkeh were derived, 
obtained from this lady many curious details con¬ 
cerning her Sisterhood, and was even allowed by 
her to be a hidden spectator of their devotions. 
During the first years of my residence at Salonica I 
chanced to come into contact with a Turkish lady 
who was always referred to as “ the Dervish Hanum,” 
and enjoyed the reputation of being no mean 
poetess. Though sufficiently liberal minded to admit 
European ladies to her acquaintance and visit them 
in their own houses, she, however, always skilfully 
parried any attempt to elicit information with 
respect to the Sisterhood of Mystics of which report 
proclaimed her to be a distinguished member. 

In the earlier times of Islam much greater freedom 
of manners appears to have existed than has been 
the case in later centuries. Indeed the records of 
the Prophet’s commands on the subject of the 
seclusion of women, and the glimpses we have in 
the Koran and in the writings of the Commentators 



DERVISH WITH LEANING CRUTCH 











WOMEN MYSTICS 


177 


of the social life of his time, do not point to any 
greater “ subjection of women ” than that enjoined 
by the Apostle Paul; and the women of the Prophet’s 
household evidently held a much higher position, 
and were treated with far more respect than are the 
women of a provincial Armenian family at the pre¬ 
sent day. The Turkish harem system, though less 
rigid than is generally believed in Europe, naturally 
offers great obstacles to the formation of sister¬ 
hoods. And the natural result of denying to women 
any social intercourse with the other sex has been 
to stifle any desire for even that moderate amount 
of education necessary to enable them to read and 
appreciate the spiritual writings by which their 
husbands and brothers are influenced. For though 
it is naturally the more ignorant among Moslem 
women who believe most implicitly in the wonder¬ 
working powers of Dervish Sheikhs, it is on the 
other hand only women who have received a good 
Turkish education who " enter on the Mystic Path,” 
and are distinguished by the title of Sufi Hanutn. 


CHAPTER XII 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE OF THE ORDERS 

"Not at Strife’s door sits he; when thwarted ne’er 
Starts up to contest; all unmoved his soul, 

He is no Saint who from the Path would stir 
Though a huge rock should from a mountain roll.” 

After the establishment of the twelve original 
Orders, the numbers of the Dervishes greatly in¬ 
creased in all the Asiatic countries which had come 
under the influence of Islam. In the train of Ala- 
’d-Din, Sultan of Iconium, and his successor Orchan, 
they spread themselves over Asia Minor; and, 
after the conquest of Broussa by the latter prince, 
the munificence of the victors, who attributed the 
success of their armies to the presence of these holy 
men, enabled the Dervish Sheikhs to found monas¬ 
teries and colleges in all parts of the Empire. For 
the Founders, at least, of these early Orders were, as 
has been seen, men of great learning and wide 
culture, as well as of saintly life. 

The slopes of the Bithynian Olympus rising 
steeply behind the ancient Ottoman capital of 
Broussa, which had for centuries previously been 
the resort of Christian hermits and cenobites, were 
now taken possession of by Moslem recluses who here 
established themselves among the flocks of the 
Turcoman nomads ; and the coolness and quiet of 
the retreats which had favoured the holy idleness of 

178 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


179 


Christian monks, now charmed the reveries of 
Dervish poets and the meditations of Sufi philo¬ 
sophers. Their honoured tombs may still be seen at 
the foot of the mountain where they passed their 
lives, or in the vicinity of the Schools of Philosophy 
in which they taught. Amid these beautiful and 
romantic surroundings, after having themselves drunk 
deeply of the wells of science, they spread their senti¬ 
ments,their ideas, and their knowledge in works which 
will live as long as the Ottoman language and nation 
endure. Sultan Orchan, who acknowledged that he 
had conquered Broussa by their spiritual aid, placed 
the most distinguished among the Sheikhs at the 
head of the Schools he founded, endowed them 
with liberal salaries, and honoured them with 
complimentary titles. 

The influence exercised by the Dervishes over the 
minds of the people generally, though often, as we 
have seen, made use of by the Sultans and their 
Ministers for State purposes, has occasionally caused 
alarm, and the Orders have in consequence not 
only been at such times regarded with suspicion, but 
subjected to active persecution. The earliest, and 
in fact, the general, accusation brought against these 
mystics was that their practices were contrary to the 
spirit of Islam and the express commands of the Pro¬ 
phet ; and from the time of their first formation, 
under the Khalifs, attempts were made to stop the 
progress of this enthusiasm for a monastic life. In 
these attempts the civil power had the entire concur¬ 
rence of the Ulema or Legists who, as students and 


180 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


expounders of the Koranic Law, found their own 
spiritual supremacy menaced, and were naturally 
jealous of the growing influence and importance of 
this rival sect. Under the pretence of defending 
Moslem orthodoxy, but in reality to maintain their 
own power and prestige, they became the formidable 
auxiliaries of the government in a struggle which 
menaced at one time the throne itself. 1 But the 
active opposition to the Dervishes appears always 
to have been rather spasmodic and intermittent 
than regular and systematic ; and what ground 
they lost at one period and under one sovereign 
they often more than regained under his successor. 

In the nineteenth century, as in the days of 
Orchan, their influence has been made use of by 
Sultans and Generals to excite the zeal and courage 
of their troops in battle. Whenever a military 
campaign had been organised, a number of Der¬ 
vishes from nearly all the Orders hasten to join 
the army. Commanding officers gladly engage 
their services and treat them with every respect 
and consideration, as their presence in the camp, 
where they spend whole days and nights fasting in 
their tents, while offering supplications and making 
vows for the success of the arms of the True Be¬ 
lievers, maintains a most desirable religious enthu¬ 
siasm among the troops. On the eve of an action 
the Dervishes roam excitedly through the camp, 
rehearsing the benefits promised by the Prophet to 
all who fight for the Faith of Islam, or who die in 

1 Ubicini, Letlres sur la Turquie, Vol. I, p. 166. 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


181 


arms, and. seek to rouse the zeal and animate the 
courage of the soldiers by every means in their 
power. During a battle their excitement increases, 
and their voices may be heard above the din of 
war, shouting, “ 0 Victors ! ” (Yd Ghazi ); O 
Martyrs ! ” (Yd Shahid) \ u Yd Allah ! ” or Yd 
Hoo ! ” (0 Him). If they fancy the Holy Standard, 
the mantle of the Prophet, to be in danger, they 
crowd round the sacred relic to strengthen the 
lines of the officers stationed as its guard, and not 
only sustain their efforts, but themselves perform 
prodigies of valour. A Dervish of high renown in 
his day, Ak Shemsu-’d’Din by name, is said to have 
foretold to Mohammed “the Conqueror” the day 
and hour of the fall of Constantinople. Together 
with seventy-seven other “ distinguished and holy 
men beloved of Allah,” he accompanied the Sultan 
to that memorable siege ; and the Sultan made a 
covenant with them that one half of the city should 
belong to them and the other half to the Moslem 
conquerors. “ And I will,” said he, “ build for each 
of you a monastery, an almshouse, a college, and a 
School of Sacred Traditions (Day-l-Hadis). The 
deeds of valour achieved by these enthusiasts at the 
taking of Constantinople, and the miracles performed 
in answer to their prayers are recorded—and, it 
need hardly be said, exaggerated—by Moslem 
historians ; and the tombs of many are to this day 
places of pilgrimage for the Faithful. 

Nor were the Dervishes held in less honour by 
succeeding Sultans. After the capture of the 

13—(2119) 


182 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


Byzantine capital and the consolidation of the Empire, 
their poets and writers remained in high favour at 
Court, and there were few Padishahs who were not en¬ 
rolled as members of one or more of the Orders. The 
long reign of Bayazid II (1481-1521) also bears traces 
of the influence of Mystic philosophy on the Court. 
The most renowned Dervish of that time, the 
Sheikh Jasi, had, when about to start on a pilgrimage 
to Mekka, foretold to Bayazid, then governor of 
Amasia, that on his return from the Holy City he 
would find the Prince on the throne, and it fell out 
as he had predicted. This eminent man received 
the titles of “ Sheikh of Sultans,” and “ Sultan of 
Sheikhs,” and his cell was the meeting-place of all 
the dignitaries of the Empire. The Turkish writers 
Seadeddin and Ali narrate the biographies of thirty 
eminent Dervishes who flourished in the reign of this 
Sultan, called by many Ottoman historians “ Bajazid 
the Sufi.” The influence of the Dervish society by 
which this Sultan surrounded himself may also be 
seen in his poetry, which breathes a spirit of mysti¬ 
cism and philosophy markedly absent from the 
writings of his talented but unhappy brother, 
Prince Djem, and his son, Selim I. 

Notwithstanding the secular hostility of the 
Ulema, it does not appear that, previous to the 
16th century, the Dervish Orders were interfered 
with by the Government. For so long as the sub¬ 
stance of the doctrines held by the higher grades of 
these mystics was kept secret, the denunciations by 
the Legists of their ascetic practices, their vows, the 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


183 


dancing and other peculiar exercises performed in 
their Tekkehs, their pretensions to miraculous gifts, 
and claims to direct communion with the Deity, 
had but little effect. But as the influence and pres¬ 
tige of the Dervishes increased, many of the Orders 
relaxed by degrees the prudence and severity of their 
original rules, and allowed much of their doctrine to 
become publicly known. Their enemies were now 
enabled to make definite and serious charges against 
them. They were accused of attempting to make 
innovations on the dogmas of Islam ; of following 
practices forbidden by the Koran ; of denying the 
very existence of a personal Allah ; of teaching dis¬ 
respect for all established institutions; and of 
setting at nought all law, both human and 
divine. Their religious exercises were denounced 
as profane acts ; and it was asserted that all kinds 
of abominable practices were indulged in by them 
in the seclusion of their monasteries. The general 
tendency of the Dervish institutions appeared to 
the Ulema to threaten also the introduction into 
Islam of something analogous to the “ Holy Priest¬ 
hood ” and “ Apostolic Succession ” of the Romish 
Church—ideas utterly at variance with the spirit 
of the Koran. An alleged discovery that gave 
a still greater shock to the orthodox mind was 
that the Dervishes concluded some of their prayers 
by anathematising the Ommiade Khalifs and glori¬ 
fying the Khalif Ali ; and, consequently, that, 
though nominally Sunnis, they virtually belonged 
to the heterodox sect of the Skids. 


184 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


There seems, however, little reason to doubt that 
whenever overt hostility has been manifested against 
the Dervish Orders by a Sultan and his Ministers 
it has invariably been prompted by political, rather 
than religious motives. For notwithstanding the 
odium cast upon these Mystics by the Legists, no 
active measures, as above remarked, appear to have 
been taken against them by the Government until 
the beginning of the sixteenth century, when 
political events caused them to be looked upon as 
a possible source of danger to the State. 

A new dynasty had been founded in Persia at 
this period on the basis of religion. The Sufi 
Philosophy had always been popular in that country; 
and Persia was at the same time the stronghold 
of the Shia heresy and of the Dervish Fraternities. 
A Dervish Sheikh, named Eidar, who traced his 
descent from the Khalif Ali, having gained a great 
reputation for sanctity and a numerous following 
of disciples and adherents, assumed the title of 
“ Sufi” par excellence, and declared himself to have 
been commissioned by Allah to work a religious 
reformation. Sheikh Eidar perished in the attempt; 
but his young son, Ismail, was protected by his 
faithful disciples, who took refuge with him in 
Ghil5n, and carefully trained him in his father’s 
principles. In 1501, at the head of a numerous 
body of partisans, Ismail revived the claims of 
Sheikh Eidar ; and, gradually overcoming all oppo¬ 
sition, he at length became the founder of the 
Sufi Dynasty, and the ruler of an extensive Empire. 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


185 


His doctrines gained also many adherents in the 
Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire, where 
Selim I took early and vigorous measures to suppress 
this new heretical sect. For, as Church and State 
are, in Islam, identical, a blow aimed at the one 
menaces equally the other; and the great schism 
of the Sunnis and Shias is not a mere diversity of 
opinion purely religious and theoretic, but also a 
practical political dispute concerning the succession 
to the Khalifate, the headship of the Moslem Faith. 
Sultan Selim, whose inquisitorial talents are cele¬ 
brated by Ottoman historians, organised a system of 
secret police by means of which he caused to be 
made out a list of all his subjects belonging to the 
Sufi sect. Their number amounted to seventy 
thousand, forty thousand of whom were massacred, 
the rest being imprisoned for life. In Damascus 
a few hours sufficed for the extermination of the 
whole community of schismatic Mahommedans. 
The Persian monarch shortly afterwards declared 
war against the destroyer of his co-religionists, and 
a sanguinary campaign ensued. The Ottoman 
Dervishes in European Turkey, whose Shia tenden¬ 
cies were more than suspected, were, very naturally, 
looked upon with disfavour during the course of 
these events, the Ulema making the most of this 
favourable opportunity by exciting the minds of 
the populace as well as of the authorities against 
their rivals. 

A new sect, created about the beginning of the 
sixteenth century by Sheikh Hamza and called 


186 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


after him the Hamzavis, appears to have been, 
from its very foundation, in bad repute with the 
orthodox; and Sheikh Hamza was arrested and 
subsequently executed by order of the Sheikh-ul- 
Islam, the ostensible charge against him being that 
he omitted to repeat at his devotions the obligatory 
number of the Isnia i Sherif, or “ Praises of the 
Prophet.” By the rest of the Dervishes he was 
naturally regarded as a martyr, and his reputation 
for piety and extraordinary powers still survives 
in the capital. Another Sheikh of the same Order 
was also put to death shortly afterwards on an 
accusation of heterodoxy, together with forty of 
his disciples, who appear to have voluntarily 
given themselves up to the authorities. And so 
great was the effervescence of the orthodox under 
several succeeding reigns, and particularly in that 
of Mohammed IV, that the Ulema and other rigid 
Mohammedans even ventured to propose the 
extermination of all the Orders, the confiscation of 
their revenues, and the destruction of their monas¬ 
teries. An attempt was, indeed, made by the 
Grand Vizier of that Sultan, Achmet Kiupruli, to 
suppress the Bektashi, Khalvetti, Djelvetti, and 
Shemshi Orders. Like all former and subsequent 
attempts, however, it succeeded but partially, as 
the Government was overawed by the Janisseries, 
whose intimate connection with the Bektashi Order 
made them the allies of the Dervishes generally, 
and the Porte feared to do anything that might 
arouse the resentment of this formidable force. 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


187 


The action of the Sultans, too, seems to have been 
but half-hearted; for it is recorded that even Selim I,— 
whom Mouradja D’Ohsson describes as “ poet, 
parricide and fratricide, mystic, tyrant, and con¬ 
queror,” 1 —made pilgrimages to the tombs of 
deceased, and to the cells of living Sheikhs of repute ; 
and that he raised at Damascus a mosque over 
the grave of the eminent saint, Muhajjin el Arabi. 
Suleyman I also built at Konieh, in honour of 
Jelalu-’d-DIn, a mosque, a Tekkeh, and public 
alms-kitchen. At Sidi Ghazi he erected a great 
establishment with a Tekkeh and college for the 
Bektashis, and he also repaired the Tekkeh covering 
the tomb of Abdul Kadr Ghilani, the sainted 
founder of the Kadiri Order, thus drawing upon 
himself the benedictions of three influential Orders. 

After this stormy period the Orders appear to 
have enjoyed a long interval of freedom from perse¬ 
cution. For Evliya Effendi, writing towards the 
end of the seventeenth century, makes no mention 
of the existence of any popular ill-feeling towards 
the Dervishes with whom he was closely connected 
during the whole of his long and adventurous life. 
The massacre of the Janisseries by Mahmoud II, 
the “ Reformer,” in the beginning of last century, 
was, however, followed by persecution of the 
Bektashi Order, who were suspected of having been 
concerned in the revolts that ensued. Its members 
were accused of treason against the State, and the 
chief Legists agreed with the Sultan that a severe 

1 Histoire de VEmpire Ottomane, Part I, p. 377. 


188 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


sentence should be passed upon the Brotherhood. 
Its three principal Sheikhs were consequently pub¬ 
licly executed ; the Order was declared abolished, 
many of its Tekkehs were destroyed, and its mem¬ 
bers generally were banished from the capital, 
those who remained being compelled to abandon 
their distinctive dress . 1 

This determined action on the part of the Govern¬ 
ment spread consternation throughout the Dervish 
Orders in the Empire, whose members feared for the 
moment that they, like the Bektashis, were all 
doomed to destruction or dispersion ; and, to use 
the expressive Oriental phrase, “ They remained 
motionless, expecting their last day, devoured by 
anguish, and with their backs resting against the 
wall of stupefaction.” But here Sultan Mahmoud 
paused in his work of destruction. “ Though”—to 
use the metaphors of the historian of the massacre 
of the Janisseries—“he had not feared to open 
with the sword a road for public happiness by 
cutting down the thorny bushes that obstructed 
his progress and tore his imperial mantle,” he 
hesitated to decree the entire destruction of institu¬ 
tions which had enjoyed the respect and devotion 
of his predecessors and of Moslems generally for 
upwards of a thousand years . 8 This “ hesitation,” 
is, however, not so surprising when we learn the 

1 Ubicini, Lettres sur la Turquie, Vol. I, p. 107. 

2 Ubicini, who stigmatises the doctrines of the Sufis as 
“ abominable,” appears to regret that the Dervishes were 
not then destroyed root and branch. See his Lettres, etc., 
Vol. I, pp. 101 and 114-115. 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


189 


fact, of which Ubicini appears to have been ignorant, 
that Sultan Mahmoud was an affiliated member of 
the Mevlevi Tekkeh at Pera, and frequently visited 
it; and that he also honoured with his presence the 
meetings of a Nakshibendi fraternity established in 
the suburb of Foundoukli. 1 

The Dervishes, however, on finding that the blow 
dealt at the BektSshis was not followed by the 
suppression or even persecution of the other Orders, 
soon recovered from their consternation ; and the 
more fanatical among them set on foot a secret 
agitation with the object of inciting the populace 
against a Sultan who had dared to raise his hand 
against “ the chosen of Allah.” In 1837 Mahmoud 
narrowly escaped falling a victim to the frenzied 
zeal of one of these ascetics. As he was crossing 
the Bridge of Galata, surrounded by his escort, a 
long-haired cenobite, commonly known in the 
capital as “ The Hairy Sheikh,” darted from among 
the bystanders, and, seizing the bridle of the Sultan’s 
horse, exclaimed, “ Giaour Padishah! (Infidel 
Sultan !) Art thou not yet satiated with abomina¬ 
tions ? Thou shalt answer to Allah for thy impieties. 
Thou destroyest the institutions of thy Brethren ; 
thou ruinest Islam, and drawest down the wrath of 
Allah on thyself and on the nation ! ” The Sultan, 
fearing that popular feeling might be roused against 
himself by the ascetic’s denunciations, commanded 
his guards to remove the madman from his 
path. “ Madman ! ” echoed the infuriated Dervish. 

1 John Brown, The Dervishes , p. 346-347 n. 


190 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


“Sayest thou that I am mad? The spirit of Allah, 
which inspires me, and which I must obey, has com¬ 
manded me to declare His truth, and promised me 
the reward of the Faithful! ” The fanatic was, 
however, seized and put to death without delay. 
His body was given up to his brethren, who buried 
it with the honours due to a martyr; and on the 
following day a report was circulated that the 
watchers had seen a Nur, or supernatural light, 
hovering over the grave of the Sheikh—a convincing 
proof of the favour with which Allah had regarded 
his action. 

It needed, however, a bold reformer to put 
a noisy fanatic to death, and the majority of Sultans 
and statesmen have contented themselves with 
exiling to some remote part of the Empire a Dervish 
whose influence on the populace they had cause to 
fear. 

Generally speaking, whenever public hostility has 
been excited against the Dervish Orders it has had 
its foundation in the horror with which the orthodox 
Sunni Mohammedans regard the Shid heresy, and 
this hostility seems never to have been very general 
or of long continuance. For those whose religious 
principles and devotion to the purity of the creed 
of Islam incited them to combat the growing power 
of the Dervishes, have invariably been, in their 
turn, combated by other principles drawn from 
the same source; the majority of the Turkish 
nation having always regarded the Dervishes, their 
Sheikhs, and, above all, the Founders of the Orders, 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


191 


as the beloved Sons of Heaven, and in intimate 
relations with spiritual powers. These opinions 
have for basis the tradition that the different 
Orders originated, as above mentioned, in the two 
congregations of Abu Bekr and Ali, and that the 
grace bestowed upon them by the Prophet, both 
as his relations and Vicars, had been miraculously 
transmitted through the series of Sheikhs who, from 
age to age, have governed the monastic societies. 
It is also popularly believed that the legion of Saints, 
constituting the Mohammedan spiritual hierarchy 
alluded to in a previous chapter as perpetually 
existing among mankind, are to be found among 
the members of the Dervish fraternities. Conse¬ 
quently, to condemn, persecute, and destroy them, 
as was the unanimous cry of the Legists, would have 
been to draw upon the whole nation the wrath of all 
the holy Saints. Even the less enthusiastic did not 
dare openly to declare themselves hostile to the 
Dervishes. Moslems generally respect what is 
beyond their comprehension, and hold this mixtuie 
of religious practices and profane exercises to be a 
mystery which the True Believer should treat with 
silent and unquestioning reverence. And the super¬ 
stitious ideas which these ascetics have the talent 
to perpetuate in their nation have always served as 
their shield. So persistent, too, is the influence of, 
and veneration for, the spiritual character of the 
more eminent among the Sheikhs, that even those 
Ottomans whose education and intercourse with 
Europeans might be supposed to have freed them 


192 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


from national superstition, are often found to be 
still under the influence of the ideas inculcated in 
youth. This is forcibly illustrated by an incident 
which was related to me during my sojourn at 
Salonica. 

A Pasha, who had represented his Government at 
Paris, and whose sprightly wit, liberal ideas, and 
pleasant manners had, in his younger days, rendered 
him a great favourite in European circles, was 
appointed in after years to the governorship of the 
Vilayet of Broussa. During his residence in Europe 
he had collected a fine library, which he rightly 
considered the greatest ornament of his konak. 
But these reputed “ infidel ” writings gave umbrage 
to a fanatical old Dervish Sheikh of that city, who 
had great influence with the Pasha, and he resolved 
upon their destruction. With persuasive eloquence 
and prophetic promises, he so worked upon the 
mind of the Governor-General, that this dignitary 
was finally prevailed upon to consent to the destruc¬ 
tion of his literary treasures, and, like those of 
Don Quixote, they were committed to the flames. 
The promised reward of this sacrifice was the much- 
desired and long-coveted post of Grand Vizier. 
Strange to say, the Pasha was actually called upon 
to occupy that high office, though he retained it 
only for the brief period of three days. 

From the earliest times to the present, the most 
genera], though at the same time the most harmless, 
weapon used against the Dervishes has been that 
of ridicule. Turkish and Persian literature teems 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


193 


with satires,in proverb and story, on their peculiarities 
of dress and practice. Even the mystic Sadi does 
not spare them in his epigrams, though his satire 
is chiefly directed against those who are Dervishes 
in outward appearance only, as for instance :— 

Of what avail is frock or rosary, 

Or clouted garment ? Keep thyself but free 
From evil deeds, it will not need for thee 
To wear the “ Crown ” of felt, a Dervish be 
In heart, and wear the cap of Tartary. 

A humorous story is current in the capital of a 
Dervish whose ass, a present from his Sheikh, died 
soon after he had set out on his pilgrimage. He 
buried the animal by the roadside, and giving out 
that a deceased companion was the occupant of 
the newly-made grave, soon obtained from the 
charitable passers-by sufficient funds to erect a 
turbeh over it, of which he constituted himself the 
guardian. Years passed. The turbeh became a 
great place of pilgrimage ; miracles were performed 
at it, and the fame of the rival shrine reached the 
ears of the old Sheikh, who had heard no news of his 
pupil since his departure, and lamented him as 
dead. One day, accordingly, he locked up his 
turbeh in order to pay a visit to his brother Sheikh. 
He was hospitably received, and recognised the 
rival turbedji as his former disciple. When evening 
came, and the last of the pilgrims visiting the shrine 
had departed, the old Sheikh asked, with much 
curiosity, who was the saint buried below, as he 
knew of none formerly residing in that part of the 
country. After some hesitation, Sheikh Ali confessed 


194 


MYSTICISM AND MAGIC 


that his dead ass was the only occupant of the tomb. 
As his superior did not seem much disturbed by 
the announcement, the younger Dervish ventured 
to enquire who was the Saint buried under his 
master’s iurbeh, and learnt at length that it was 
no other than the parent of his own sainted donkey ! 

The most wildly fanatical are found among the 
wandering Dervishes, who, by their prophecies and 
adjurations, often excite the Moslem population 
against their Christian neighbours. Shortly before 
the outbreak of the troubles in Bulgaria in 1876, 
one of these zealots completely terrorised the 
Christian inhabitants of Adrianople. He knocked 
at one door after another in the Christian quarter, 
forced his way in when they were opened, and 
declared to the startled inmates that Allah had 
revealed to Him his desire that the infidels of the 
town should be destroyed within three days after 
Easter. He finally reached the house of the Bishop, 
to whom he repeated his menacing prophecy. The 
reverend gentleman, apprehensive of the possible 
consequences to his flock of these “ revelations,” 
went at once to inform the Governor-General of 
the incident. The Dervish was sent for, asked if 
he had said what was reported of him, and what he 
meant by it. The wily ascetic, however, merely 
shrugged his shoulders and replied carelessly that, 
as he was in his Hal when he made the alleged 
declaration, he was not responsible for anything he 
might have said. The Governor-General deemed it 
prudent to send him out of the city under escort 


STATUS AND INFLUENCE 


195 


with orders for his conveyance to Broussa ; but 
the Dervish managed to elude the vigilance of his 
guards—possibly with their connivance—and con¬ 
tinued his fanatical mission in other parts of the 
province. 



WORKS REFERRED TO IN THE 
FOREGOING PAGES 


Ali Aziz Effendi, of Crete. The Story of Jewdd, translated by 
E. J. W. Gibb, 16 

Brown, J. B. The Dervishes , 18, 37, 149, 187 
Browne, E. G. A Year Among the Persians, 57-59 
Clermont-Ganneau. Revnt Archeologique, 22n. 

Creasy, Sir E. S. History of the Ottoman Turks, 19 
Cunningham-Graham, Mrs. Life of St. Theresa, 69n. 
D’Ohsson. Tableau GSntrale de la Turquie, 2n., 187 
Dozy. Essai stir VIslamisme, 5n., 14 

Evliya Effendi, Narrative of Travels (Oriental Translation 
Fund), 28, 33, 39, 40, 72, 166, 187 
Falconer, Prof. The Mesnevi, translation of, 55 
Garcin de Tassy. Mantic Uttair, translation of the, 5n., 49 
Gaston Paris. Acad . des Inscriptions , 22n 
Gibb, E. J. W. Ottoman Poems, 61-3, 119n. 

Griffith. Translation of Jami’s Yusuf and Zulaikha, 56n., 59, 
60 

Guyard. RevuS de VHistoire des Religions, 22n. 

Jam!. Yusuf and Zulaikha : Salaman and Absal, 1, 56-60 
Jelal!j-'d-D!n. The Mesnevi or Masnavi, 50-55; 110 
Jones, Sir Wm. The Works, vol. i, p. 52 
Lane. The Modern Egyptians, 35 
Malcolm. History of Persia, 15, 153-4 
Michelet. La Sorcitre, 163 

Redhouse, Sir J. The Mesnevi; The Acts of the Adepts, 
translations of, 31n., 51n., 69, 91, 156, 158, 161, 174 
Riley, Athelstan. Mount Athos, 77n. 

Rozenzweig. Yusuf und Zulaikha, 56n. 

Sad!. The Gulistan, 35n. 

Sale. Al Koran, 72, 136-8, 143, 158 
Silvestre de Sacy. Journal des Savants, 2n. 

Sprenger. Journal of the Asiatic Society, 5n. 

Ubicini. Lettres sur la Turquie, 46, 180, 188 
Vaughan. Hours with the Mystics, 5n. 


14 —(a 119 ) 


197 













INDEX 


A’ashik Pasha, mystical 
poetry of, 60 

Abdals, or Perishans, popular 
veneration for, 37 ; canon¬ 
isation of, 40; stories of 
famous, 39 

Abdul Kadr Ghilani, 16; 
“ Rose " of, 119; prayer 
of, 151 ; legends concerning, 
120, 151 ; his forty days' 
fast, 153 ; tomb of, restored 
by Suleiman I, 187. 

" Absent Ones," the, 34 
Abu Bekr, the first Khalif, a 
Mystic, 1, 17 ; legend con¬ 
cerning, 116; Prophet's 
injunction to, 122 ; original 
fraternity revived, 134 
Adam, Patron of the Baker's 
Guild, 42 

Adepts, Acts of the, 146, etc. 
Ak Shemsu-’d-Din, 181 
Ali, the third Khalif, a Mystic, 

1, 17 

Allah, the " Beautiful Names " 
of, 121 

Alphabetical Magic* 142 
Apocalyptic Puzzle, the, 140 
Augustine, St., reference to, 
5n 

Baha-’d-Dxn Veled, fellow- 
student of Sadi 49 ; legends 
concerning, 154, etc., 157 
Bayazid Bestemi, his panthe¬ 
istic doctrines, 4 ; mystical 
legend concerning, 54 
Begging Dervishes, 88 


Bektashi Order, its foundation, 
18; costume of 111, 112; 
its symbolisms, 113, 118; 
persecution of the, 187 
Bithynian Olympus, her¬ 
mitages of the, 178 

Celibacy, vow of, 101 
Corn brought to Adam by 
Gabriel, 42 

Corn-tree of Paradise, Adam 
forbidden to eat of, 42 

Dervish Orders, 2 ; saints, 
6, 22 et seq., 64, 71 et seq., 
146 et seq., 170 et seq. ; 
Mahdis, 20-1 ; poets, 46 et 
seq. ; endowments, 66-7 ; 
salutations, 85 ; obligation 
of silence, 90 ; penances, 90- 
92 ; hospitality, 93 ; fune¬ 
rals, 93; costumes, 107 et 
seq., Ill et seq., 118; sym¬ 
bolic objects of the, 114 
et seq. ; Sisterhoods, 175-6 
Dervishes, hostility of Legists 
towards, 179; in Ottoman 
warfare, 180; in folk-tale, 
144 ; married, 87 ; magical 
practices of the, 138 et seq. ; 
ecstatic powers of, 146 et 
seq. ; satires on, 192 ; 
rosary used by, 121 ; 
vocative and contem¬ 
plative varieties of, 122 
Dimitri, St., tomb of, at 
Salonica, 76 
Djins, 61n, 142, 145 



200 


INDEX 


Djouneid, mystical doctrines 
of, 5 

Eckhart, Christian Mystic, 
5n 

Elias, see Khidhr 
Elemental Charms, 143 
Endowments, 66, 67 
Evil Eye, power attributed 
to the, 136 

FakhrO-'n-Nisa, "The Glory 
of Women/ 1 174-5 
Fatilia, 72n, 74, 121, 124 
Fatima, daughter-in-law of 
Jelalu-’d-Din er Rumi, 173 
Freemason, synonymous with 
“ infidel,” 132 

Gabriel, the Angel, 111, 114 

Hadji Bektash, honoured by 
Sultan Orchan, 18 ; blesses 
the Janissaries, 19; his 
parentage and education, 
162 ; legend concerning, 163 
Hamzavi Order, 70, 121 ; prin¬ 
ciples of the, 133; per¬ 
secution of, 185-6 
Hassan and Hussein, sons of 
the Khalif Ali, 117, 119 

Imams, the Twelve, 113; 
the Imam Riza, 113; the 
Imam Jafer, 113 
Initiation, preliminaries to, 
95 ; ceremonies of, 96 ; of a 
Mevlevi, 96; of a Bektashi , 
97; of a Sadi , 102; of a 
Rufa’i, 102 ; of a Kddiri, 103 

Jam!, his mystical poems, 
56 et scq. 

Janisseries, the, blessed by 
Hadji Bektash, 19; de¬ 
stroyed by Mahmoud II, 
187 


Jelalu - ’d - Din, er Rumi, 
founder of Mevlevi Order, 
16, author of the Mesnevi, 
50 ; legends concerning, 154 
et seq . ; his scholastic career, 
156-8; his marvellous 
powers, 160 ; his wife and 
daughter-in-law, 173 
Jemshid, 42n 

Jewad, " The Story of/* 
quotation from, 15 

Ka’abah, the, 54 ; station of 
the Qutb , 35 

Kadiri Order, its foundation, 
16; mystic Rose of, the, 
120, 131 

Kalenderi Dervishes, their 
origin and obligations, 20 
Kamber, groom of the Khalif 
Ali, 113, 114, 117 
Ketman , the, 5, 6, 105 
Khalveti Order, its doctrines, 
17-18; legend of its Pir , 18 
Khidhr-Elias, or Khizr, his 
identification with Elijah, 
St. George, and Horus, 22 ; 
legends respecting, 23 ct 
seq . ; dual personality of, 
26 ; protector of travellers, 
26; connected with St. 
Nicholas, 27 ; his periodic 
reincarnations, 27 ; quests 
of Khidhr-Elias, 28 ; mi¬ 
raculous powers of, 29 ; visits 
J elalu - 1 d-Din er Rumi , 32 
Khiyali, his mystic poetry, 62 
Kira Khatun, wife of Jelalu- 
'd-Din er Rumi , 173 

Legends, Dervish, popular 
origin of, 163 

Legists, hostility of to Der¬ 
vishes, 173, 183 

Magic and Witchcraft, alluded 
to in Koran , 136, 138 





INDEX 


201 


Mansur Halladj, his doctrines, 
6 ; persecution of, 8 ; 
martyrdom of, 9-12 ; 
miracles of, 10 
Mesnevi, the, of Jelalu-’d- 
Din, 50 et seq. ; 110 
Mevlevi Order, foundation of, 
16 ; its Grand Master, 67 ; 
its music, 108 ; legend of the 
Reed-flute, 110; dew or 
" dance 0 of the, 123; 
prayers, 124 

Mohammed Bokhara, disciple 
of Hadji Bektash, 164 
Mohammed of Nischapur, or 
" Attar," his conversion, 
46 ; his poetical works, 47 
Mohammed the Prophet, 
Sheikhs of Mevlevi Order 
claim descent from, 107 ; 
receives tidings from Gabriel, 
118; bequeathed mantle to 
Sheikh Uwais, 119; be- 
spelled by a Jew, 137 
Mohammedanism, opposition 
to of Sufism, 5 
Monasteries and Shrines, 
Mevlevi , 65 ; frugal life in, 
67 

Monastic organisation, 79 et 
seq. 

Moses,and Khidhr-Elias, legend 
of, 23 ; and the Shepherd, 
Mesnevi parable of, 53 ; 
and the Stone, 115 

Nakshibendi Order, founda¬ 
tion of, 17 

Nicholas, St. a myroblite , 77n 
° Night of Power/ 1 the, 92n 

Omer Khalvet, legend of, 18 
Original Fraternities, 1 

Pantheism, 4, 48 
Patron Saints, 42 


Pilgrimage, 106 
Poetry, Persian and Ottoman, 
peculiarities of, 44 ; mys¬ 
tical significations of, 45 ; 
specimens of, 48 et seq. 
Poverty, principle of, 66 
" Power of the Will, 0 148, 150 
Prophet's Mantle, Feast of the, 
119n 

" Questioners/' the, 174n 
Qurban Bairam, Feast of, 160n 
Qtitb, —“ Pole ° or " Axis," 
32, 54 

Reed-flute, song of the, 52 ; 

legend of the, 110 
Religious Exercises of the 
Mevlevi Order, 123 ; of the 
Rufa'i , 128 ; of the Sadi , 

131 ; of the Nakshibendi , 

132 ; of the Hamzavi , 132 
Rum, the Eastern Empire, 16 
Rosaries used by Dervishes, 

66, 121 

Rufai Order, its foundation, 
16; costume, 118; its 
mystical Rose, 120 

Sadi, disciple of Sa'ed-’d-Din 
of Kashgar, 49 ; his poetical 
works, 50 

Sa'ed-’d-Din of Kashgar, his 
wonderful powers, 148-9 
Saints, Dervish, 22, 148 ; can¬ 
onised in recent times, 169 ; 
women-saints, 170-4 
Seyyid Emir Sultan, legend 
concerning, 167 ; marries 
Sultan's daughter, 168; 
reproves Sultan Bavazid I, 
ib. 

Sheikhs, Dervish, temporal 
duties of, 68; powers of, 
78 ; celibate and married, 
81; a polygamous sheikh, 82 




202 


INDEX 


Shemsu-’d-Dln of Konieh, 

107 

Sidqi, Ottoman poetess, 62 
Solomon's Seal,’* a Dervish 
symbol, 121 

Spells and Counterspells, 138-9 

Spiritual Hierarchy, the, 32 
et seq. 

” Stone of Contentment,’* the, 
108; of ''Submission,” 115 

Sufi Dynasty, the, 184 ; Phil¬ 
osophy, 1-3, 8, 17 ; massacre 
of by Selim I, 185 

Sunnis and Shias, 183, 185, 
190 

Symbolisms in dress, 121 

Talismans, 140 ; of Hadji 
Bektash, 141 

Thought-reading, 148 


" Thousand Nights and a 
Night,” Dervish dances 
referred to in, 123 

Timour the Tartar, his camp 
broken up by a Dervish, 
33 

Uwais, Sheikh, 2 ; patron of 
barber-dentists, 43; reci¬ 
pient of the Prophet’s 
mantle, 119n 

" Water of Life,” Oriental 
myth of the, 23 

“ Yusuf and Zulaikha,” 
romantic poem of, 56-60 

Zbmzem, Sacred well of, 102 

Ziky, or Invocation, 121-2, 
126, 129 


THE END 


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Mysticism and 
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